The Artarmon Library is my seventh library since arriving in Sydney nine weeks ago. Nine weeks is also the approximate age of my baby cousin, whom I would be meeting this evening at my uncle’s apartment. In order to beat the evening rush hour fares, at the cost of being early, I tapped into the train station at 3.55pm, avoiding the 30% surcharge attached to 4pm—6.30pm.
At the station, which rose on orange-brick, two men sat at the bottom of the staircase that disgorged passengers and made them pedestrians. One was selling flowers in buckets, the other, finger-picking guitar strings. Both hawked beautiful wares: stories in sound and Spring in smell.
A street away, I could still hear the guitar across the quiet, suburban air. There, two Japanese markets stood on facing corners. On another sidewalk was a black bird that walked like a turkey, looking for fruit seeds. Further ahead, a little insect—not a bee, not a fly—left a flower bush when I leaned in.
In the library, a refurbished church with a considerable Children’s section, I sat between a wall and a bookshelf. I was parallel to book spines, inscribed with young adult offerings. And I was next to a poster in Chinese on the wall, beseeching fathers (as the illustration makes clear) not to gamble and bet on their nuclear family’s happiness.
In the middle of it all, I flipped ‘frankie’ magazine, for young women.