Marcus Ten Low: ‘An absolutely ordinary murder’ and ‘My Origins’

An absolutely ordinary murder
after Les Murray

The word goes round Brisbane, the murmur goes round its city centre;
As I walk with my VEGAN teeshirt, men look up from butcher’s racks,
The shoppers at Coles and Woolworths forget the milk in their hands,
And women with leather for shoes leave the steakhouse:
There’s a fellow crying in Reddacliff Place. They can’t stop him.

The Cube of Truth in Reddacliff is trickled with rain, and with people
Sluggishly watching from cars. 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 sentient being,
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 tv screens hanging about him
In the evening light, in this Cube of smiling sorrow;
And black-clad volunteers in the crowd who tried to hug him
Stare out at him, and feel, with amazement, their minds
Longing for more tears, as children thirsting for knowledge.

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 too, and would have told him,
But they will not have been there. The most caring manhood,
The most ethical reserve, the slickest vegan amongst us

Trembles with silence, and burns with unexpected
Judgements of peace. Some in the concourse scream
Who thought themselves happy. Only the smallest egos
And such as look out of Paradise come near him
And sit for a while beside him, with old, cluttered posters of animals.

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 place it around his shoulder 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, but rather laugh, for fear of all acceptance;
But the weeping man, like the Earth, requires nothing,
The man who weeps bows his head, and cries out
Of his writhen face and humanised body

Not words, but grief, not messages, but sorrow,
Hard as the Earth, sheer, present as the minds of those
Being slaughtered on those screens—
And when he stops, he smiles and walks between us,
Mopping his face with the dignity of one
Man who has wept, and now has finished weeping.

Evading disbelievers, he hurries off down George Street.

Marcus Ten Low

My Origins

from my mother,
who breastfed me when she was
unhappy within herself,
i learnt purity;

not of the milk itself, but of the moral head.

from my father,
in whose calloused hands i lay my trust,
i learnt ruggedness and diction,

not of a manly decisiveness, but of poise and light.

and from my brother,
whose sore-thumbed idiosyncracies
resonated in my considerations
i learnt fortitude, and charity,

first within the eye, and then within the heart.

but from my self,
whose mirroring of nature found cure
in mere idleness, and chastity,

i learned that time moults like a feather
falling from the sky;

i walked through life with
spirit, sense, and love.

Marcus Ten Low

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