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’s sixth book of poetry, Between Lakes, will be published by Four Way Books in September 2020. His previous book, Into Daylight, won the Dorset Prize and was published by Tupelo Press in 2014, and Incomplete Knowledge (Four Way, 2006) was a runner-up for the Poets’ Prize. He has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the NEA, among other honors. His poems have appeared widely in magazines and journals, as well as in Best American Poetry, The Pushcart Prize Anthology, and other anthologies, and been featured regularly on The Writer’s Almanac, American Life in Poetry, Poetry Daily, and other online or media venues.