Peter Boyle / Poetry


(in memory of Val Plumwood)

The sound of crows is known to us for its mournfulness, its insistent black edge to a bright world. There was a day when she stepped into a clearing and surprised crows at their other speech, the cheerful joyous rapture they know from time to time when no one is about, when they are completely free of all other creatures’ expectations. It did not last long, less than a minute, before the crows perceived her startled presence. In that minute how taken home she felt to the world’s deep joy.


Or perhaps as a girl what had happened was this: for one moment she became a crow and heard crows the way crows hear themselves. Nothing has changed in the singing of the crows, the same pitches and frequencies spliced against a clearing in sunlight. Only for this one time her ears, her entire being, perceived these sounds according to the delicate inner coding of a crow. Just like the small brown and grey birds, so drab to our eyes, that to each other are splashes of the brightest iridescent colour, so, through a strange grace, she had perceived that day for those few moments as a crow does, had grasped their smooth eloquent harmonies gliding between the interrupted stuttering of the trees.

©Peter Boyle

Published in Towns in the Great Desert: New and Selected Poems, Puncher and Wattman, 2013. Available at

I am a bird, is a mixed media painting by Marwa Hennawi, a young artist from Jordan. Crow, by Peter Boyle was the inspiration behind this painting. The artist used water colours, charcoal and black ink.

girl and crow

I am a Bird, is a mixed media painting by Marwa Hennawi. The artist used watercolours, charcoal, and black ink. © Marwa Hennawi

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