Jeffrey Harrison

Scene from a Photograph in a Dream
February 19, 2020 Harrison Jeffrey

Scene from a Photograph in a Dream



What was I doing in my childhood room again?
And why, on my old bed by the window,
was there a snapshot of my brothers and me
in our late teens, wearing blue jeans and sweatshirts,
contentedly napping in the living room?


My younger brother was lying on the sofa,
while below him, on the carpet,
my older brother and I lay next to each other.
What took me by surprise was
the way one of my hands was resting


on my brother’s chest with a natural,
unselfconscious intimacy, as though
there were no secrets between us,
and without the slightest awkwardness
that might have caused me to move my hand away


if we had woken up. Only sleeping
in a living room within a photograph
inside a bedroom in a dream—
never when I was awake and he was alive—
have I touched my brother with such tenderness.



Jeffrey Harrison is the author of six books of poetry, including, most recently, Between Lakes (Four Way Books, 2020), selected as a 2021 Must-Read Book by the Massachusetts Center for the Book, and Into Daylight (Tupelo Press, 2014), winner of the Dorset Prize. A former NEA, Guggenheim, and Bogliasco Fellow, his poems have appeared widely in magazines and anthologies, including Best American Poetry and the Pushcart Prize volumes. Recent work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Paris Review, The Threepenny Review, The Yale Review, The Hudson Review, The Gettysburg Review, The Southern Review, Poem-a-Day, and elsewhere. His essay “The Story of a Box,” about Marcel Duchamp and his family, was recently published in The Common.