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/genevieve pfeiffer

Eleven Laws, Or An Ode To Water

  1. In twenty years, Long Island will be submerged, and the ocean will not remember the beach where he laid her down she laid him down they pitched their tent. It will swallow each grain of sand that sugared the bottom of their feet and calves.

  2. When the waves lap against the shore, can we say this is a form of begging? She’d said, he’snot worthy but waited for his turn.

  3. The water returns, diligently, a lullaby and liquid caress, compelled by a force more powerful than itself.

  4. She said yes. He took her to the sea line to make love, to hide themselves away among foam and shells.

  5. He took her, or she asked, or they submitted? At the beginning of romance, confusion is a pleasure. Earth and water meet and the wind smells of both.

  6. We know less about the ocean. It’s brine covers earth. It travels the sky in heaping clouds. I know more of him now, and less than before.

  7. Water: an ancient law obeyed. With or without him, a glass next to the bed. A compulsion I turn toward each morning.

  8. Could I forgive him? The open rain held us cupped against the clouds, we’d sat in the car when he said he’d spend his human years with me. The falling bashed just over our heads.

  9. Took me to the edge and left. Like a man who comes too quick, leaves his salt.

  10. After a year and a half, I haven’t forgiven myself. The undertow finds me.

  11. The ocean will rise. Will take each pleasure-ridden, silted particle.

When The Water Comes For Us

I planned. When the sea swelled, when Brooklyn Became marsh, we’d pack our bikes with food, flint, rain jackets.

I’ve studied the maps. The outline of Brooklyn, shaded, to say The water will claim this once again. Did we think it ours? Did I think you

Mine? Ownership an idea I knew was foolish, my heart Gave itself before I could call it back. I wanted to be

Your Liz Warren. To point this way in coming crisis. In one plan we’d pack our panniers, ride north

To shelter among mountains. I know When poke and water hemlock can kill. Which parts

Of solomon’s seal must be macerated to heal. I’ll learn The change. The one rule of disaster is stay together.

How far will water creep once we can no longer hold it back? I don’t know. How far will the ticks travel, latched to our skin

And will we find them before disease converts our blood to poison? I don’t know if we’ll fight over the Great Lakes, who they belong to

As if they belong to us. But I know now nothing belongs to anyone. Not the birds swooping over the calm water for bugs. Not the bike

Whose lock can be broken. Not the wild strawberries, little fuzz hearts I’ll pick this summer. And each summer they choose to bloom.

This, the mountain.

The trill in your chest. Those lungs, strong elastic maids.

It’s autumn. The air is warm With leafmold. Everything Is on fire. The heat of life dries

To a brilliant crisp. Your feet Solid atop death’s sodden colors. [and beneath you, the legs

which have brought you this far.] You watch the change. A carnelian Sugar maple leans into scintillating

Scarlet of red maple. Your thoughts Leave an uncatchable echo. Pleasantly lost In the lurid river birches’ yellow.

You are auburn, you are beech. You watch The change from inside it. You stand at its foot with your human life.

Genevieve Pfeiffer is a poet, herbalist, and teacher. They are the Assistant Director at Anomaly where they’ve curated a folio on reproductive justice and its intersections, and will host its summer reading series in a beautiful NYC community garden (join us!). Their work is forthcoming or has been published in Erase the Patriarchy, Juked, So to Speak, The Write Room, and more. They oscillate between NYC and the mountains, and you can find them where there are trees.

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