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An Absolutely Ordinary Rainbow

Written by: Les Murray | Biography
 The word goes round Repins,
the murmur goes round Lorenzinis,
at Tattersalls, men look up from sheets of numbers,
the Stock Exchange scribblers forget the chalk in their hands
and men with bread in their pockets leave the Greek Club:
There's a fellow crying in Martin Place.
They can't stop him.
The traffic in George Street is banked up for half a mile and drained of motion.
The crowds are edgy with talk and more crowds come hurrying.
Many run in the back streets which minutes ago were busy main streets, pointing: There's a fellow weeping down there.
No one can stop him.
The man we surround, the man no one approaches simply weeps, and does not cover it, weeps not like a child, not like the wind, like a man and does not declaim it, nor beat his breast, nor even sob very loudly - yet the dignity of his weeping holds us back from his space, the hollow he makes about him in the midday light, in his pentagram of sorrow, and uniforms back in the crowd who tried to seize him stare out at him, and feel, with amazement, their minds longing for tears as children for a rainbow.
Some will say, in the years to come, a halo or force stood around him.
There is no such thing.
Some will say they were shocked and would have stopped him but they will not have been there.
The fiercest manhood, the toughest reserve, the slickest wit amongst us trembles with silence, and burns with unexpected judgements of peace.
Some in the concourse scream who thought themselves happy.
Only the smallest children and such as look out of Paradise come near him and sit at his feet, with dogs and dusty pigeons.
Ridiculous, says a man near me, and stops his mouth with his hands, as if it uttered vomit - and I see a woman, shining, stretch her hand and shake as she receives the gift of weeping; as many as follow her also receive it and many weep for sheer acceptance, and more refuse to weep for fear of all acceptance, but the weeping man, like the earth, requires nothing, the man who weeps ignores us, and cries out of his writhen face and ordinary body not words, but grief, not messages, but sorrow, hard as the earth, sheer, present as the sea - and when he stops, he simply walks between us mopping his face with the dignity of one man who has wept, and now has finished weeping.
Evading believers, he hurries off down Pitt Street.



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