I was eight, my cousin Angie six, when my aunt accompanied us into Detroit. The People
Mover lumbered beneath us for the first time, as she introduced us to Miss Tilly.
Miss Tilly eats apples and berries, but she doesn’t eat bananas,
my aunt would say with a smile sucked deep in her teeth.
Miss Tilly hates boxing and scuba diving and bowling, but she loooooves
football, she baited, pulling on the verb like a hot string of cheese.
Miss Tilly likes puppies and kittens and even...beetles. With this, my aunt shuddered
in mock disgust, causing Angie and me to flutter our own small bodies.
We knew we were missing an essential piece of the puzzle and begged to be let in on the secret, but when my aunt opened her mouth to oblige, we squealed for more time.
Does Miss Tilly like children? Angie asked.
My aunt tickled her until she giggled. Miss Tilly certainly does not.
But she likes mommies and daddies, I ventured.
My aunt nodded her approval, Yes, she does.
It took the ten-minute ride from Michigan Avenue to Greektown to catch on. Angie
followed seconds after, attesting to her precociousness.
We continued to play the word game over saganaki. As we happily dipped triangles
of pita bread into the flambéed appetizer, we knew dear Miss Tilly would approve.
Lannie Stabile is the winner of OutWrite’s 2020 Chapbook Competition in Poetry; the winning chapbook, “Strange Furniture,” is out with Neon Hemlock Press. She is also a back-to-back finalist for the 2019/2020 and 2020/2021 Glass Chapbook Series and a back-to-back semifinalist for the Button Poetry 2018 and 2019 Chapbook Contests. Find her on Twitter @LannieStabile