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Dear Axxel Xiong,

You’re growing up fine
on this special day.
Happy birthday.
You’re becoming quite the handsome kid
with your fuzzy black glossed hair, blushed dimpled cheeks
and dark eyebrows. Don’t forget that barely
noticeable mole under your left eye.

You’re three now
and I apologize for failing
To send you a two dollar birthday card.
Or a call, a new Optimus Prime toy, or a brief visit.
I apologize for being such a lousy father.

The pictures I have of you in my mind,
can I say you look just like your mother?
Your cleft lip
is all better now, thanks to her.
Look! Now we both
Have scars on our lips.
Your pale skin, definitely hers.
Your freckles, definitely hers.

Please feel lucky,
Asians don’t ever get freckles and someday
a kind young woman is going to go
crazy over them and find them lovely.

In my dreams we played tickle monster and baby
helicopter until we passed out on the kitchen floor.
Our picture perfect play day.

In my dreams is where you’ll stay because you’re
only a dream, a wish, and nothing more.

In my dreams, will I see you again? Someday? Maybe?
Goodbye for now, my make believe son, it’s time
for “daddy” to wake up now only to wish I never said yes
for that abortion.

Love, Dao Xiong

Dao Xiong is a Hmong writer who is currently incarcerated in Minnesota. Through writing, he found liberation from judgment's eyes. He believes that his culture and its decimated history are worth saving, one pen stroke at a time.

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