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The view from Red Hill above the house of  Amy McGrath’s childhood in the ‘bush’ capital of Australia.

Plays & Poems
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Canberra My Home

“This is a unique, vivid insight from a true child of early Canberra.” Canberra Times

Utopian City
Utopian city, a once-upon-a-time
raised from nothing on a nowhere plain
by conjurer politicians and architectural magicians,
who vanished after all their wizard games
and left their wands still rousing on the lilting hills
the whirls and swirls of their sleek incantations
to weave forever-after mystifying maze
where men might lose themselves in dense plantations.

Utopian city, myth of a childrens’ fable,
a vision city on a shining ground
glittering in the mind, if not the sunset,
ideal city from our dreamtime found
as if the drafting board of dream’s town plan,
drawn by many another blueprint hand,
could  make our desert of disorder bloom
with jewels of perfect laws to exalt our land.

Utopian city, history as old as time
resides in the grasp of all its winding ways,
lurks in the shadows of its shady avenues
and haunts its drowsy inward turning days
that wayward history of one only certainty
the turbulent untidy heart of man
will overturn and tumble hierarchy
that seeks to regiment with neat town plans.

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Coming Out
My sister came out in a ball at Parliament House
with all the paraphernalia of coming of age -
white kid gloves, the badge of ultimate lady,
white frock with swirling train, white bouquet
and groomed crown of hair waved into place –
obligatory costume to launch into society -
whatever society might be in Canberra parlance,
certainly not Jane Austen’s nor Fanny Burney’s.

Coming of age for marriage and flirtation
clear watershed from youth to engagement,
articulate hour when dates first became possible
when maturity was declared as if by some time clock;
argument avoided, castigation defined,
licence ultimately given by the King Himself
in high panoply of his Governor-General.

Custom immutable as it seemed that night
there in King’s Hall with the debutante waltz
custom soon blown apart by war guns forever
for the anarchy of my non-debutante generation.

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