top of page

The Man Who Spoke Playground

Just there on the rise, before the road descends

into older suburbs on one side, and new estates

have replaced the pine forest where the kids once

threw sticks into a creek now turned into a street name,

my daughter and I have come to a small playground.

Above us a shade sail, like the wing

of a huge raptor tethered to creosote-dark posts,

strains toward the Brindabellas

as if casting the shadow of clouds on their sides.


Why does the mention of Antrim Road in Irish poetry

seem to evoke so much more than

the name of the road that runs past us here?

Famine and dispersal, certainly, even when viewed

from so far away, the way so much of Canberra lies

compact below us, lending itself to such speculation.

Does that mean such resonance can’t be summoned?

Can Cotter Road never be given the shape in your mouth

that Antrim Road takes in mine? 

(After all, Cotter was an Irish settler; and ‘Antrim’ means ‘a ridge’). 

Howls from the RSPCA’s kennels,

as if Dante’s Inferno lies just behind the Maccas over there,

suggest not.  Suggest


I come back to now, come back

to the equipment pearled in frost, the swing’s

slight movement from the wind’s touch, or perhaps

my daughter kicking off in distraction,

the ranges’ lilac cummerbund in the distance.

The shade sail above us points to rain drifting in

along the river corridor, over the observatory that squats on its hill,

over the glowing brake lights of tiny concrete trucks heading to the outskirts,

over days that are happy that run like a film

coming to the end of its spool

over days that are unhappy turned over

one by one like photos in an album

over this place graced by a name without resonance,

only by time passing

with the sound of a magpie’s wing

cutting the face of a diamond

from the morning’s cold air.

Southword November 2023

bottom of page