Peter Boyle and MTC Cronin


Little Book of Trees

Ego of the Leaf

That it dresses the tree. That it strips the tree. That it
looks down on the seed, running like a dog at the
earth’s heels, obeying the season’s commands. That
breeze-mantled it defeats the painter and outfaces the
art critic with its sharp incisive edges. That it dictates
the fashion code of forests.

That it refuses to fall. In an autumn like summer. That
it cradles the dew in a network of veins as cool as a
lake suspended on a plateau of the sky. That it is both
lake and boat, perfect vessel for the sea of itself.

That it is the purpose of the tree, the summation of life,
one true spokesman of the borderlands between soil
and sky. That it regulates the transition of elements,
giving and receiving in equal measure. That it holds all
knowledge, all sighs, all images. A green aura at the
core of all flames.

The ego of the leaf. That it crumples.


Tree Notes

All leaves of all Autumns are keeping a single
appointment with death.

The tree, of all living things, has the largest nest.

In breath’s orchard, future is the only fruit.

Trees stumble only when rocks suspect their path.

In the forest of justice, every law burns.


Questions of Vision

On either side a wood of drugged crosses. At its
beginning and end empty sky and vanished signposts.
Can you see what is written on them?

Sibyl’s leaves, perishable bone oracles of an equally
barbarous land. The leaves of any book a memory of
leaves. Yellowing, falling, renewing.

Spells first, annotations only a distant second.

Does the tree think the moon is merely a theory of the

When a deer reaches the ocean does it still see forests?


Lexicon of the Tree

Roots and branches have been complaining for eons
about the assault of analogy.

Trees reach for heaven — leaves remind us of the failure
of that particular enterprise. Unfolding in a present that
calms us, the trees both are and are not their leaves.

A valley of scribes like a valley of cicadas. Or a valley of
snails nibbling their way towards the sky.

It is the nature of blossoms to be extreme: object of love
or wither.

Roots trade pleasantries with subterranean creatures; the
wolf and the worm understand their quest for
nourishment but magma and fiery quartz speak
impenetrable languages.

Is the leaf just a fish out of water? (Is the almond tree a
landlocked mermaid?)

Gathering leaves: a homage to the perishable? An
instinct that the in-no-way human, in-no-way
manufactured is the one speech worth listening to?

They fall; they are no more. By night what is gathered
turns black to enter the night.


Tree of the Ravine

The branch hears what is called from both sides of the
bridge. The bridge finishes itself twice.

The ravine cuts the world from under us. A whirlwind
traveling back and forth between two cliffs, making the
wild grass hope that somehow wildness will survive.

The peregrine falcon nests in the uppermost corner of
civilization. Civilization, the most uncivilized part of us,
sits above a deep invisible river dangling a hook and
sinker, hopeful that something edible will turn up.

A woman who has been abandoned walks into the
ravine to find the tree that is her twin. Only on this tree
are the flowers not out of reach. Only in the sky that
receives its scent is the moon neither relative nor


The Trees

Moving into trees
the leaves
Followed by birds

The tree
of all living things
has the largest nest

Passing over us
the trees
mimic our gestures

The trees
Standing there
as they pass us by



Peter Boyle is a poet and translator of Spanish and French poetry. His sixth collection of poetry, Towns in the Great Desert: New and Selected Poems, appeared in 2013. In 2010 his book Apocrypha (Vagabond Press, 2009) received the Queensland Premier’s Prize. With MTC Cronin he is the author of the book of collaborative poems How Does a Man Who Is Dead Reinvent His Body? The Belated Love Poems of Thean Morris Caelli (Shearsman).

MTC Cronin has published eighteen books (poetry, prose poems and essays) including a collection jointly written with the Australian poet Peter Boyle. Several of her books have appeared in translation including her 2001 book, Talking to Neruda’s Questions, which has been translated into Spanish, Italian and Swedish. Early 2009 saw the publication of Squeezing Desire Through a Sieve: Micro-Essays on Judgement & Justice (Puncher & Wattmann, Sydney) and Irrigations (of the Human Heart): Fictional Essays on the Poetics of Living, Art & Love (Ravenna Press, USA). Her work has won and been shortlisted for many major literary awards, both internationally and in her native Australia. Her latest poetry collection, The World Last Night [Metaphors for Death] was published in 2012 by University of Queensland Press. A new collection — The Law of Poetry — is forthcoming through Puncher & Wattmann.