open questions

By | 15 May 2023

The librarian speaks about librarians’
work at the conference table
he lists the ways they know
how to steer
and graze
an archive.

we learn
how to navigate a building with many doors
and get books from Bunnings-sized
storage facilities stacked in regional Victoria.

At the dining table reading,
again, hearing the tap in my kitchen
and the tap
in the other toilet drip.

The plumber came, and he fixed the tap in the laundry and the bathroom
but he said the others were shot.

They need to be replaced
he’d call the agent
who’d call the landlord
also called the rental provider
who doesn’t have a mobile phone
and is mostly uncontactable.

So, I can still hear the drip of the shot
tap into a small porridge pan in the sink.

I turn right to
slow the drip
and then left
because the plumber warned

Around the neck
of the head of security
(big, bald and bearded)
hangs a lanyard with a pin attached to it.
The pin is that rainbow amalgam
of pride and trans flags, and
I note its presence
as incongruous and perfect.

He begins his speech
leaning back in his chair
at the conference table,
blue shirt with the top buttons
unbuttoned to loosen
a breath that breathes out
all the time in the world,
distinguishing between beep beep
and whoop whoop
signifiers of alert
and then alarm.

He says make sure to let security know
if you lose your pass
And the control room is always manned
And 2 guards and then
8 guards and patrols all night
and we can walk you to the tram if it’s late.

My lanyard is blue with no pin
it says ‘welcome’
in languages of the city

When it stops dripping it makes me nervous, repetitive domestic noise get on my nerves
until it’s gone and then its absence makes you nervous.

The crescendo will come
when the head of security indulges in a description
of what to do in case of

It’s never happened but it could

the detail will be luscious and rich

It’s unlikely but I have to tell you

because you never know who is coming through a public entrance.

An image comes to mind of a little library cradled
in the rough hands of the head of security

The guards with pendants around their necks
at the public entrances
can make a decision rapidly
they can pull
their tech necklaces
and all the doors behind them lock,

In the unlikely event

I look at the tap and think
about the perfect tension
for preventing droplets
forming because nothing
is more boring than the
DEI module I have to
(must) do for work
The tipping point…Richard from KPMG says that social licence…I look at the tap to check for
a drip

Never in all the years I’ve been at the library

His fingers stroke the small dome lightly, like it’s a
kitten separated from its mother too young.

Can’t run? Barricade the door, turn off the lights and close the blinds, pretend not to be there, be
quiet, hide in the corner, wait, if you need to move, he says, stick to the walls and take cover, don’t
make yourself a target, not a big target like a big guy like him, he says, slink, if you have to move, but
don’t move, stay, hide, and never run with glee toward the police, because they might shoot you, he says
they don’t mean it, they are on a mission, he doesn’t say this last bit but this is the gist.

Another gist
the police are benevolent
just like him
the head of security

I didn’t know my blood type
so I tried to give
because that’s what the website said to do
if you don’t know

I like to follow instructions,
do the right thing.

After a long wait and a long interview, the technician hooked me up to the machine, asked me to
shuffle over to the side of the seat, further, yep further, he inserted the needle in a vein in my
right arm, it wasn’t in the centre, which they prefer because it’s more stable, anyway, the blood
refused to flow. I did the exercises as instructed via diagram, but the machine said my blood was
too sluggish, someone senior came to look because now my hand was tingling and she tried
adjusting the needle which she thought was against the wall of the vein, but it bruised, and she
said sorry we are going to have to end the donation

But I hadn’t donated anything

She got me to hold my finger
on a pile of gauze before
she wrapped my arm in a bandage
and said sorry again and the original technician gave me cream for the bruise
and further instruction

the bullet points on the small card in
the plastic sleeve read

  • report any suspicious behaviour or incidents
  • beware of tailgaters

the text message
thanked me and
apologised for
the bruise

Do the public engagement people
naturally resonate at a high frequency?

The head of security is a bass note
a large drop hitting the full saucepan
I can see he’s worked hard on this hum

I look back at the pin
on the lanyard
that rests on his chest
as he chuckles
and we shuffle in chairs
around the table

Swaddling the little library, his palms
like an oyster shell made of flesh

I don’t mean to cause alarm

He is the head of security! And this is the world!
And he has an important job to do!

I’d drunk the recommended number
of cups from the dripping tap

a drip rides on the tail
of the previous drip

Outside the library
three flags fly
backwards they read



Question 3 of 12
in the test section
on open questions

(note: answers are not recorded for this section)

Why do you wear the rainbow lanyard at work?

A. Open
B. Closed

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