The Manchester Review
Anna Jackson
Three poems
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Unknown unknowns

Maybe one day we will even teach in schools,
along with Homer again, and the Aeneid,
the equally complex songs of the whale,
graduate students composing theories
to try and explain the mysterious bass shift
in song latitude 61º longitude 15º
towards the end of 1971 –
still, we will never know the secret song
the whale sings to himself,
the heretic variations,
the secret pleasure
he allows himself
in the silence and the dark;
any more than the poet’s biographer,
revealing everything he’s told,
accounting as best he can
for contradictions in accounts,
gaps in the paper trail, can know
where the poet goes at night
when even his wife, lying beside him
in the dark, can’t know where he goes
in the privacy of his mind;
any more than we can know
what other worlds God might have dreamed up
too secret, too sentimental,
too erotic to be manifest
in this universe
of dust and light;
any more than we can know
it isn’t this one after all
that is the imaginary world
too sentimental, too beautiful,
too privately pleasurable
really to be real.