In the small park with gloomy trees, near where the factories used to be,
was a bust of a man’s image on a plinth. I think it was made of bronze,
the head was brown when not striped white by seagull droppings.
Mother said he had been a Mesèn; she liked using odd words, desperately
trying to keep afloat in a world of tinned sardines in oil and mackerel in
tomato sauce. I took it to mean a rich man kind to working people and had
donated this sad little park surrounded by damp factory walls; a place where
the workers could sit and enjoy the sun. The park was only open Saturday
Afternoons and Sundays, one couldn’t have people sitting there during work
week. A child climbed over its fence and drowned in a tarn of green algae.
The park was eradicated, just as the grim factories were thirty years later.
Life was bleak in my town, one neon lit advert, on the night sky “Jesus Saves.”
Competing with the stars, and a persistent rumour that the man in the suit
shop wore ladies underwear.