The carpark

The carpark was a castle.
In fact it was the castle.
All the carpark officials
communicated in the German
of Hannover.
Only one of them insisted
he spoke flawless English.
But even he used strange words,
like ‘minch,’ which he expected
everyone to understand.
This meant to the left of
10 o’clock.

Such instructions were necessary
as the carpark was almost impossible
to find one’s way around
without a guide.

The unsuspecting pedestrian
would suddenly be confronted
by sheer drops, where guard-rails
had gone missing,
or had never been fitted.

It was disconcerting to find oneself
with one foot unsupported, dangling,
the floor having disappeared under it.
Where there might have been a rail
or banister there was nothing
to help pull oneself back
from the brink.

Naturally, because it was now a carpark,
it was lit with bulkhead lights,
which gave a dull yellow glow
to the dark seeping stone,
broken, in places, by sections
of small white tiles.

The tiles reflecting it certainly
increased the overall amount of light
but provided the illusion
that where they stopped so did
the solid structure of the carpark.

The tiled sections were islands
of solidity suspended in a blackness
above and below where it was only
a matter of conjecture
as to whether the walls and floors
continued beyond them.

This was anyway a city of
architectural oddities.
There were streets of
apartment blocks and
shopping centres
with more spires
than Westminister,
illuminated by a greater
wattage than Las Vegas.

There was a whole block
resembling phosphorescent
dried noodles. The Bird’s Nest
had nothing on this.

There were mock Tudor terraces
which rose to the height
of regular office towers,
some 40 overhanging storeys.

And there were office towers
that had been harvested
and bound in upright ricks like hay,
the stalks leaning in together
tied around the middle.

The subway system
not only connected the city
horizontally but also went up
vertically among its many
structures and on the inside
of its biggest buildings.
Individual seats sat in
gyroscopic cradles.

The language of the city
was German. It was really
no surprise that the denizens
of the carpark should
speak it too.

Looking at it now,
it was more a lighthouse
than a castle.
It had a central tower
of mammoth proportions
with a crow’s nest at the top,
from which observations
of the city could be made.

The subway lead
into the lower buildings,
around the central
tower, without penetrating
any further.

It was as if
from one’s car
to the safety and modernity
of the subway system,
one was being asked
to negotiate a dangerous
labyrinth, while the only
helpful official barked
out ‘minch‘ at intervals,
to keep one from falling
down a stairwell to a
certain death.