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.