Damen O’Brien

Self Portrait as an Unreliable Narrator

Everybody knows what a witness remembers
is not what occurred. An identikit analogue,
a perceptual compromise. Negotiated story.
Everybody expects the colours to be wrong.
Men remember the car’s make, its rusty bonnet.
Women remember what she was wearing.
Everyone recalls the look on her face as he
drove her away, the absolute desperation.
But if she was brown-eyed or blue-eyed,
they will not recall, only that her eyes
asked a question that no one could answer.
That’s how I tell the story: how could they
not notice the time that I left, the direction
that I went? Smug in the knowledge that I
lived it. I know what happened. I know why
I went, but is that the whole of the fear that
I was? I’m not so sure now. I am full of doubts.
Was I a woman who was driven away, or
the man who was hunched at the wheel?

Damen O’Brien is a multi-award-winning Australian poet. His prizes include the Moth Poetry Prize, the Peter Porter Poetry Prize, the Newcastle Poetry Prize and the Gwen Harwood Poetry Competition. Damen has been published in Poetry Wales, Aesthetica Magazine, New Ohio Review, Arc Poetry Journal and other journals. Damen’s latest book of poetry, Walking the Boundary, is available through Pitt Street Poetry.

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