For Canberra's centenary, “City and Mirage” by edge-dweller Judith Wright.
The tawny basin in the ring of hills
held nothing but the sunlight’s glaze,
a blue-blank opaline mirage,
sheep-cropping, flies, the magpies’ warble.
Burley Griffin brimmed it with his gaze.
Cloud-architecture in reflected image:
arena, amphitheatre, gallery
on gallery of quivering marble,
rose from his mind - great circles, radials...
Over the clear-strung air his fingers played
conjuring a rhetorical opera-city
for that bald-eagle, King O’Malley.
Fantasies of power. The grey sheep nibble,
dogs snap at flies. Shoddy officials
argue his job away, confuse his plan.
Mirages, changed to lakes, lap sewage.
Cities are made of man.