A Sandy Beach Almanac

You've landed at Sandy Beach, NSW, Australia: Lat. -30.15331, Long. 153.19960, UT +10:00 – local map & zoom Google map. I live in a cabin on this beach, 25 kilometres north of the traffic and shops of Coffs Harbour, 600 km north of Sydney. My intention is to post observations of Nature and life within 1 km (1,000 paces) of my South Pacific home.


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Tuesday, November 29, 2005

An Absolutely Ordinary Rainbow

An Absolutely Ordinary Rainbow

By Les Murray

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 into 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, not beat his breast, not 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 was 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 out 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.

This was an extraordinary double rainbow -- triple with the bridge. I took 70 photos around Coffs Harbour, following the rainbow in my car, with the camera on the wrong setting. By the time I finally got it right, this series of four pix was what I got. A nice young Japanese man with no English language was also in awe of the sight, had also had left the traffic to be a living human being beneath a rainbow over a rainbow bridge and not go home unmoved. Probably some passing drivers thought we were mad, some envied us and some didn't form an opinion.

The Japanese man accepted my signalled request that we swap cameras in camaraderie. To record an unusual moment. With my camera he snapped me and with his, I snapped him. We both smiled and shook hands and knew each other instantly in a very deep although ephemeral way, and I ran back to my car in the rain. If it had not been so hurried, we might have photographed each other with our own cameras, but the rain was starting to fall and the best moment was already enjoyed anyway. Thank you, sir.


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