How to Age Gracefully

               You may think sweater set, but you must never, ever wear one.
                        —Kate Moss

When you kvetch,
your son says, Go
out in the Adirondacks
and get eaten by a wild animal

When X-rays show your bones
vanishing, imagine your
latter years in a wheelchair,
brilliant as Stephen Hawking.

Your son, a blooming
rose of muscle, says,
No makeup. It just
makes you look worse

Remember how you used
to admire Aunt Clara’s
concentric smile wrinkles,
her raconteur’s contralto?

What to wear? He suggests
you dress like Bolivian women
in their colorful ponchos
that cover everything.

When you despair,
he offers to push you
out on an ice floe
for the polar bears.





Barbara Ungar’s sixth book, After Naming the Animals, is forthcoming in 2023. Prior books include Save Our Ship, Immortal Medusa, and Charlotte Brontë, You Ruined My Life. She has work forthcoming in Scientific American, Small Orange, and Crazyhorse. Her work has been translated into Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, and Bulgarian. A professor of English at The College of Saint Rose in Albany, New York, she lives in Saratoga Springs. For more details, please see

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