As near as I can ascertain, the environment
included stained pink concrete, decapitated
pylons, a shed with three and a half walls,
the last half wall covered with graffiti
in thick chunky letters – sadly, no words
can be identified in this collection
of memorabilia. There were rusted wagons
in a marshalling yard, empty carriages
in a side line, skips on their sides.
Huge apartment blocks, empty, holed,
had no-one at their feet or in their balconies
or approaching or walking away
– just one woman carrying
a small child in red tights to a railway line.

But there was a water tower with black and white
abstract decoration. High up, grey metal
shone in the sun. Shutters sprang open
everywhere transforming concrete walls.
Two cars nudged each other front to front
in a lay-by along a stretch of carriageway.
Scarlet geraniums and pollarded trees
budded in a short neat row.
Anemones on a bedroom window sill
flowered from a red net bag.
A tiny pink turret hatted a house.

Silence in the empty streets at rush hour!
But – and here the family history corroborates
this fiction – the Boulevard Peripherique was packed
with three lanes of hardly-moving traffic
while thick beautiful smoke clouds were borne,
fully formed, from one factory chimney.