Having a Baby at 43 by Debora Kuan

🏆 Pushcart Nominated

Your body is the oldest house

on the block now. Or so it

feels. Its tall frame

heaves from the cold push of

winter. Coins of moss flake

from its shoulders and

collect along its feet. You don’t

need to ask any more

if you are beautiful. As

your grandmother once said,

Gou piao liang le.

“You are beautiful

enough.” Take your idle

questions to the curb then.

So what if the teenaged cashier

now calls you ma’am. Or

your husband mostly prefers

to sleep. So what if the doctors

gentled their warnings by

bringing their expert mouths close,

and all you could do was pray,

while folding your paper gown like

a shield across your lap.

Good bones, good

home—how tired you are,

and yet how you serve.

Hold yourself in the brightest regard,

the quiet chandelier of the cosmos,

and all its whims, reflected

in the evening of your windows and

in this incomparable creature,

the slimmest of all slim chances—

whose only planet is you.


Debora Kuan is the author of XING and Lunch Portraits. Her work has appeared in Poetry, The New Republic, The Iowa Review, ZYZZYVA, Boston Review, New American Writing, and elsewhere. She has received a US Fulbright creative writing fellowship, as well as residencies at Yaddo, Macdowell, and Santa Fe Art Institute. She is currently poet laureate of Wallingford, CT, where she lives with her husband and two children.


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