I Think I’ve Seen This Film Before

by Annie Marhefka

where the girl goes from smitten to
bitten, scratch marks on her forearms,
fingerprints fleck the flesh under her
necklace, collarbone tender to touch
but of her lover she is defensive,
defenseless and senseless the way she
looks away when you ask how she is,
the way she says she’s fine, she’s fine,
she’s fine, the way she shakes and blames
herself. At some point, she’ll start
stashing money on the shelf, between
the photo albums that prove their love
is real, not imagined, snapshots of
kisses on cheeks with outreached arms
holding cell phones as cameras, posing
with chins lifted high and smiles
painted on. When she has enough cash,
she thinks she will run, she just has to find
the right timing, she tells herself
between the nights where the anger
unfolds in quick bursts and suffocates
the air around their bed and squeezes
wrists until the veins pulse and the carpal
bones give, and finally she says,
I’m not fine. And you take her in
and you tell her she’s safe, but she still
trembles while she sleeps, body
flinching as eyes shift under lids
and you watch her breaths in and out and
you quietly beg her don’t go back,
don’t go back, don’t
go back.

Annie Marhefka is a writer in Baltimore, Maryland. Her creative nonfiction and poetry have been published by Lunch Ticket, Literary Mama, Pithead Chapel, Anti-Heroin Chic, and others, and her work has been nominated for Best of the Net. Annie is the Executive Director at Yellow Arrow Publishing, a Baltimore-based nonprofit supporting and empowering women writers, and is working on a memoir about mother/daughter relationships. You can find Annie’s writing on Instagram @anniemarhefka, Twitter @charmcityannie, and at anniemarhefka.com.