From WTP Vol. VII #7
I wish I knew what happened to the photograph
of my father and me that my younger brother took
when we were in our twenties, maybe
still in college, home for Thanksgiving.
We were helping our father cut firewood,
a ritual since we were boys, though back then
we didn’t do much more than tag along.
Maybe Dad and I were already out in the woods,
and Jeremy was catching up,
listening for the chainsaw to find us.
Maybe we were gathering the logs
and loading them into the back of the Jeep
as he approached with his camera,
thinking he’d surprise us—
but Dad and I spontaneously turned
and in unison gave him the finger
with our hands encumbered by work gloves
just at the instant he snapped the shutter.
My brother printed the photo and gave it to me,
a black-and-white five-by-seven—
too big for an album, and never framed.
I haven’t seen that photograph in years.
I’ve looked for it but can’t find it anywhere.
Maybe some day I’ll open a book
and it will fall out, surprising me once more
in the way it catches my father and me
united in a moment of buffoonery,
our smiles showing through our phony glares.
Jeffrey Harrison’s sixth book of poetry will be published by Four Way Books in fall 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 runner-up for the Poets’ Prize. His poems have appeared widely in magazines and journals, as well as in Best American Poetry and The Pushcart Prize anthology.