Today's poem is from Mark Nickels.
It appears in his book Cicada, published in 2000 by Rattapallax Press. Mark adds that "it seems as if the poem and the tattoo (click here to see the tattoo on Tattoosday) come from the same source, but whether the poem or the tattoo came first, I couldn't say anymore".
This Kindled by Gaude Virgo Salutata, A Motet by John Dunstable c.1400
Slow spreading English music, as though
we watched a pale drawing off of the night
from delicate fields, and heard a haunt
of griffins in a fog close by the house.
How one of the griffins, without fire, has wrought,
by a concentration of time, a face in gnarled elm wood
with a spell hidden in his hands: to warp, to whorl the wood,
to make water freeze and thaw and unvisibly fade,
to make fire ash, to make fire even without fire,
and carve an eddy in the air that turns his maneuver
into a major wind: kissing the barn wood high up,
over filling the air over the ocean,
causing a wrinkle in the salt drift, engendering thunder.
How a griffin loves with his hands the way
we walk without shoes after winter,
painfully, for the first time in a year.
But after all this is spoken of, it is the tenderness
I haven't stolen for this poem: the griffins
droning after the rain, touching the wood
to make a face in the bole of a tree, another hybrid,
one being fallen into someone else.
Mark Nickels lives in New York City. His book Cicada was published by Rattapallax Press in 2000. He has won the Milton Dorfman Prize (1996), the Ann Stafford Prize from USC (2002) and been a finalist and semi-finalist at Lyric Recovery Festival (Carnegie Hall). He is a 2006 New York State Arts Foundation Fellow in fiction, and two poems ("Shells" and "The Twentieth Century" from his 2o00 collection were recently selected for inclusion in the on-line archive of the Poetry Foundation (aka Poetry).