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by James Reiss

She would eat fried eggs
for dinner and smell grease on her hands
all evening as she read to her father.

She would read Zane
Grey or let the silver cast
of TV bathe their faces like moonlight
on a row of summer cabins by the shore.

She would go to her room to slip
off her housecoat, then lie on the throw
rug and bite the salty
heel of her hand.

And her eyes, her cheap
mascara, would look exactly like a doll’s
when you place one on its back.


James Reiss’s first book, The Breathers, appeared from Ecco Press. Since then, he has published poems in the New Yorker and Esquire. (Spring 1975)

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