Anne-Marie Oomen | Keep Clear of Me
ANNE-MARIE OOMEN, Award-winning Michigan author, writer, poet, Interlochen Arts Academy, Writing Workshops, Poet in Residence, Writer in Residence, Writing Residence
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Keep Clear of Me

Keep Clear of Me; I Am Maneuvering with Difficulty

So I have to get drunk
over at Art’s

where the boys know Barn
and leave me alone.

I know right away it’ll get around
and someone will tell his mama,

but I stay committed
until I’m so gone I can laugh.

One of his poaching buddies says,
Bead, I’ll take you home ,

but I say, No. I say,
Don’t touch me anywhere.

He backs off, palms up.
I toss back my Jack

remembering how to keep distance
from men, friends, the past

that still lives. Time I pay
my tab and go.

Just off shore, I spot the mannequin
bobbing inside the green pool

poured down by the coast guard beacon.
After pretending one way and another,

for an hour, I know for sure.
It’s no fucking doll.

I’m too drunk to swim out
and pull her in,

and too scared to touch her,
let her touch me.

And that’s the problem.
No way to get to her,

or get away, get past the fact
of that blue-black death

staring me in the face
like a dog trained to kill.

I finally know, I’m not letting her go,
no matter how I’d like to.

I sober up quick,
stagger back to the bar, call 911.

Sirens and flashing lights.
I lay in the sand, thinking hard

about the drift of being drunk,
the way it pushes in and out

as though we are just bodies
without anything to feel,

as though we are dead.
The ways she’s dead.

Someone, then no one.
If, if, if.

And part of me wants to say—
what’s the dif?

And another part sees her eyes,
watered down

to smithereens with what she’s seen.
And it’s that look,

that finally gets to me,
makes me remember how

we are stuck on this stripe
of mud and unemployment

of the heart, always mired
in each other and memory.

I walk all the way home, tell Barn a lie
so I can crawl into this one night

before he knows what I know:
How we run,

man do we run, straight
into the eyes of our secret dead.