Anna Jackson

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Poets know words, know routes, know ghosts.

Ghosts know hollows, know sorrow, know words.
Hollows know ghosts, know dogs, know weeds.
Dogs know sorrow, know work, know throes
of ecstasy, tides of hunger, the scent of other dogs,
dogs they’ve never met, have haunted
and been haunted by, leaving a trail,
following a hint today, a scent
tomorrow, a sign left long ago. Dogs know
routes, know history. The scent beneath the tail
they acquaint themselves with when they meet
and store with all the others in their minds,
they might not encounter again
till months later, when they look to their owner
with ears up and mouth open, but have no way
to say, that dog was here, the one with
the red fur, the distracted owner, the one
we met that time on the beach… Dogs know
silence, know loneliness. No way to share
this encounter with their owner any more
than the owner, finding in a journal the poetry
of a poet met long ago, could share the pleasure
of this discovery by reading the poetry
to the dog, though look, he does prick up his ears.
An odd poet, taking a winding route.
There are some poets you travel the routes of
so often you could feel your way in the dark,
that turn, that corner, and then the plummet
towards the end. What does it give you, after all,
to meet in person in a room?
A thought the dog doesn’t share, when,
having known the followed route,
the stored scent, an affair of the air, here is
the other dog! Incarnate! Guessed and host!

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