Closing Time

It’s five o’clock.
Closing time.
Yes, I’m afraid so.
Yes, we are open tomorrow from ten.
Thank you.
Good evening.
The lock settles into place in the door.
Behind me, I hear the library rustle.
Back to work.

The audio books are first to emerge,
Oozing out across the floor like mollusks.
I scatter handfuls of earbuds for them in the corner.
And herd one back in place with a broom.

The children’s picture books can cause havoc.
Their great wingspan and excitable nature
Can have them up on the ceiling in minutes.
If you’re not careful. Luckily, I’m trained.

The non-fiction section settle ponderously on the tables
Like owls. They don’t need much, but they startle easily.
I move slowly, and give one or two of the friendlier tomes
A scratch behind the wipe-clean cover.

The languages are noisy. No way around that.
Like parakeets, they have a lot to say and
They’re not shy about saying it. I shake the box of vowels,
and fend off a greedy dictionary. He’s already been fed.

The tech books drape themselves protectively
Over the public PCs. They’ve been doing this a lot recently.
I think they don’t like the new antivirus. I keep meaning to contact IT.
At least they’re not fighting the public again. Yet.

We will not talk about the Mills & Boon display.
Especially not – especially not – the large print editions.
And large-print is usually so well-behaved.
It’s usually best just to leave out lots of water.

The fiction… I sigh. The fiction is the most chaotic.
A great flapping mass of shelves as they
Compete for nesting space. The lonely copies
On the shelving trolley cooing, mournfully.

I shouldn’t complain. The fact that they’re out for me
Is something of a compliment. Books like library staff,
Of course, generally speaking. But they do wait until there
Aren’t many people near at all to really come alive.

It would be nice to watch them settle,
Just take a seat and be here, safe in the susurrus.
But it’s time for the worst job in the library day.
I go and fetch a shovel to muck out the reviews.

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