Cyphers Magazine


Publishing poetry, prose and art since 1975



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Matt Kirkham

LAPIS LAZULI

You call me outside to hear the bats

and I find I can no longer hear the bats.

They flicker from the outstretched sycamores

through a world of rarefied speech normalised,

their accents no longer open to me.

The clouds above the light-spilling city,

above its flat streets, above the mountains beyond

who again turn their backs on their shadows

that fall eastwards like the shadow of a ship,

and the sky, in the way its colour is here declining

and here darkening behind and above,

are taken from what experience? From where?

You hear what you say you can hear.

I gawp upwards at the sky, those colours.

What is the fading over the centuries,

and what deepening as we stare back

over a dockland bridge to another city?

The painter looks out across the canals.

In the candlelit room below his apprentice

crushes stone from Kandahar, mixing it with wax,

with linseed oil, drop by drop, almost speck by speck.

Their city will see reflected in the depths

of these blues the painter’s patron’s trade

with the Indies, his slaves, his spices,

the sky above his redbrick warehouses,

the navigator’s sails as they fill and swell.

How the patron fumbles for his wife at night,

following her whispers: Councillor. Burgomaster.

Like me, he is old enough for friends to fall

into fear of forgetting, and lose themselves.

Grain by grain, ground down to fine powder,

this weighing the spectrum. This form of abstraction.