Endowed in perpetuity by the Glenna Luschei Fund for Excellence

The Real Truth about Aunt Bibs and Me

The Real Truth about Aunt Bibs and Me

By James Reiss

When I was three my mother would leave me
at my aunt's. I used to watch her dressing
in high heels by a mirror. Undressed, napping,
I crawled between her stockinged legs and married
the garter belt that kept my eyes from closing.

I closed my eyes. Beside a skinny river
I built a tent of sticks and garter belts.
In her stockings and high heels my aunt would fish
for guppies while I fed the fire and lay
back in my Captain Marvel Jr. blue suit.

Shazam! the fire clacked, and I was eight.
My aunt no longer dressed in front of me.
We napped together, but we lay apart.
I closed my eyes. The river in mid-winter,
cracked up the middle, was an icy mirror.

Beside the fire, through the ice I fished.
My aunt inside our tent lay sick and tired,
dressed like an Eskimo. I could not see inside
from where I fished and shivered like a stick.
Shazam! the fire clacked, and I was twelve.

Prairie Schooner, Vol. 46, No. 1 (Spring 1972), p. 46


James Reiss

James Reiss is the author of six books of poems including, most recently, The Novel. His work has appeared in numerous literary journals, and he has been the recipient of numerous grants and awards from organizations including the National Endowment for the Arts, the Academy of American Poets, and the Poetry Society of America. As Professor Emeritus of English at Miami University, he is Founding Editor of Miami University Press in Oxford, Ohio. His personal website is www.jamesreiss.com. His surname rhymes with "peace." He and his wife live near Chicago.

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