Excerpt from My Baby First Birthday by Jenny Zhang

Disembodied mouth emitting a cloud with eyes.

which is why I am telling you about this now

it won’t go wasted on me
pink morning came on time
the worst haters mostly out of my life
still we have fun
haven’t I looked out enough windows
haven’t I lived on three continents
still my people call for me
this was not the journey they were forced to take
my thing was a pleasure thing
had to look up blue moon to enjoy it
I wasn’t born in the same country
your childhood wasn’t mine
your ghostly ache was felt in my bed
when another poet served opium cocktails
I was instantly humiliated
he heard me from the other room
we were having the same dream
someone finally came to take me away

becoming a person was easy

my mother was not involved
she was tiny pieces of herself
inside her mouthy cave
I was twitching from the wholeness
I heaved one great fart
after another after another
my greatest loves did not survive
tiny babies that never knew anything else
but their baby lives
I wanted to be babied too
I gave up everything to be babied
I told the love of my life
to baby me but he fell short
what if I was never born…
would you still want me?
if a person is happy five times or more
then that is a good life
I said that is a good life
there’s no point in resisting
it’s too late anyway—
we will figure out the rest from here


Jenny Zhang is the author of Dear Jenny, We Are All Find and Sour HeartHer forthcoming poetry collection, My Baby First Birthday will be published by Tin House in May. Pre-order via Books Are Magic here.

This week’s illustrations are by Michael DeForge, who lives in Toronto, Ontario. His comics and illustrations have been featured in Jacobin, The New York Times, Bloomberg, The Believer, The Walrus and Maisonneuve Magazine. He worked as a designer on Adventure Time for six seasons. His published books include Very CasualA Body BeneathAnt ColonyFirst Year HealthyDressingBig KidsSticks Angelica, Folk Hero and A Western World. Also, he stirs hot toddies with a pair of scissors.