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’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.