Jeffrey Harrison

January 15, 2012 Harrison Jeffrey



I’m going to pretend I’m a painter and just
set up my easel here in the tall grass
by the river, with the bridge in the distance,
because the bridge needs to be in the picture
with its steel trusses and concrete pylons
streaked with rust, something to give structure,
something man-made, a work of art
or at least of engineering to connect
not only the two banks of the river but also
the earth to the sky, fastening them
together like a row of thick stitches.

If I were really a painter I wouldn’t have to
say all that but just paint the damn bridge,
free of the smeary imprecision and duplicity
of words, though I could still make the bridge
look like stitches by painting it black
against a sunset’s bloody wound—but that
would be its own kind of falsity, so maybe
it’s only an illusion that a different
medium would connect me more directly
to the world, and the wound may be
inside me anyway, and these the stitches.

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.