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.
Copyright © 2020 Jeffrey Harrison
Used with the permission of Four Way Books.