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  • Lannie Stabile

Now. Then. Always.

By Lannie Stabile

“Listen, was I born gay, or did Julia Stiles in '10 Things I Hate About You' make me gay? It's literally impossible to know.”

― Kate Stayman-London, One to Watch

My mom is watching Pretty Woman, and I am listen-

ing behind the couch. Sorry. That’s not right. My mom was

watching Pretty Woman, and I wasn’t being watched. I

try to remember that neglected girl is gone. Born

and elongated into a mess of a woman with short, gay

limbs that couldn’t fit around a body if a body let her try. Or

I wish I had played with matches + nylons, but I never did.

Around the arm of the couch, a dirty child watched Julia

Roberts run her hands down a boot. One of the hostiles

now, I am a pair of pantyhose with a run. Snagged in

mid-air. Ogling both Vivian and Edward. At 10-

years-old, a woman’s shoulder blades were things

I tucked under the cool covers of a twin bed at night, and I

would think about my step-father who might hate

me if he knew. Might hit me if he knew about

the penis I touched in his pop-up camper. All you

ask for, as a child, is welfare. For a parent to make

a little noise when you’re around. But maybe that’s just me,

needing to be safe and whole and free and wanted. A nosegay

in the weeds, plucked by a kind hand that knits

daily flower crowns for her daughter, her prize. I literally

cannot think of a better ending than my mother’s impossible

hands holding me now, then, always. Clinging to

a future she didn’t understand and a past I couldn’t know.


Lannie Stabile (she/her), a queer Detroiter, is the winner of OutWrite’s 2020 Chapbook Competition in Poetry and a back-to-back semifinalist for the Button Poetry Chapbook Contest. Lannie was also named a 2020 Best of the Net finalist. Her debut poetry full-length, Good Morning to Everyone Except Men Who Name Their Dogs Zeus, was published in 2021 by us here at Cephalopress. Learn more about the book here.

In 2022, look out for her fiction debut, Something Dead in Everything (ELJ Editions). Something Dead in Everything is a collection of fiction that explores the intricacies, intimacies, and strangeness of grief.Find her on Twitter @LannieStabile or @NotALitMag, where she throws random writing contests and open mics.

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