An Absolutely Ordinary Rainbow

In the centre of Melbourne, two blocks from my office, a man was shot and killed this morning. Two others were shot aswell, and at the time of writing this were both in a critical condition. The gunman fled the scene, and our entire block was ‘locked down’.For whatever reason, when i first heard about this it didnt register. When a police officer told me to stay in my building, I ignored him to get a coffee. Later, when i realised i needed some cords to finish a job, I headed outside again, saying to some friends on a forum “I’m going out, wish me luck,” The response was gallows humour. Latest Age Headline: “Nerd Shot Dead Buying Cords”When i got to the corner of Collins and William Street, just slightly north of the intersection of the shooting,I could’ve kept walking. But like so many other people on that corner, i walked down to the police tape to see the body, covered only with a sheet. I don’t know why i did it, and i wish a hadn’t. I only glanced at the body for a second, but it was long enough for the situation to become suddenly real, and to realise that someone, someone innocent, lost their lives trying to help a stranger. I’ve felt sick ever since.I’m not trying to be overly dramatic, I know awful things happen everyday. But chris it was awful. And Melbourne became such a surreal city today. I heard snippets of conversation as a wandered the city, buying my nerd cords. A Newsagent said “You just can’t be a hero these days”. A british accent said “I thought Melbourne was safe…”Even after the reality of the body had passed, i stumbled upon the scene where the suspected shooter had dumped the gun. Bored journalists smoked cigarettes around the site. Some Forensics Officers walked passed me and my first thought was to admire their High Definition cameras. Life goes on.I dont know why i bothered writing this. I’m sure it hasnt helped. I’m just trying to record what it felt like in the city today. My heart goes out to the family of the victim.An Absolutely Ordinary RainbowThe 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 handsand 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 mileand drained of motion. The crowds are edgy with talkand more crowds come hurrying. Many run in the back streetswhich 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 approachessimply weeps, and does not cover it, weepsnot like a child, not like the wind, like a manand does not declaim it, nor beat his breast, nor evensob very loudly—yet the dignity of his weepingholds us back from his space, the hollow he makes about himin the midday light, in his pentagram of sorrow,and uniforms back in the crowd who tried to seize himstare out at him, and feel, with amazement, their mindslonging for tears as children for a rainbow.Some will say, in the years to come, a haloor force stood around him. There is no such thing.Some will say they were shocked and would have stopped himbut they will not have been there. The fiercest manhood,the toughest reserve, the slickest wit amongst ustrembles with silence, and burns with unexpectedjudgements of peace. Some in the concourse screamwho thought themselves happy. Only the smallest childrenand such as look out of Paradise come near himand sit at his feet, with dogs and dusty pigeons.Ridiculous, says a man near me, and stopshis mouth with his hands, as if it uttered vomit—and I see a woman, shining, stretch her handand shake as she receives the gift of weeping;as many as follow her also receive itand many weep for sheer acceptance, and morerefuse to weep for fear of all acceptance,but the weeping man, like the earth, requires nothing,the man who weeps ignores us, and cries outof his writhen face and ordinary bodynot words, but grief, not messages, but sorrow,hard as the earth, sheer, present as the sea—and when he stops, he simply walks between usmopping his face with the dignity of oneman who has wept, and now has finished weeping.Evading believers, he hurries off down Pitt Street.Les Murray

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