All I’ve Imagined You to Be

Written by Alma Mark-Fong

Edited by Emerald Liu

When I was young
I yearned for the father I did not have
Jealous
and resentful of the little girls
who swung with laughter
in their daddies’ arms


At night I might imagine
Listening to his early 2000’s rock playlist
From the backseat of his tan Toyota
Littering his stained, fabric seats
With the sesame seeds of everything bagels
That he picked up on his way home from work


When he’d embrace me
His prickly bits of grown out stubble
Would stab at my skin
And I would scold him
For not taking more care
to shave his face in the morning


He’d have coffee breath too
Matching the stain on his collared shirt
And I would wrinkle my nose
At the bitter scent


On the weekends when it was warm
he might take me for a hike
up in the mountains
And make lunches out of cheese sandwiches
when we got to the top


The father I made up
Likes sitting on curbs during Summers
Fingers sticky with melted ice-creamAnd tells me that chocolate is gross
But steals a generous mouthful from my cone anyway


The father I made up
Never forgets birthdays
Or recitals
Or award ceremonies


The father I made up
Does not hurt little girls
Or leave them to grow up alone
With only with lies to remember him by


But the father I made up
is not a perfect man
for he was never there to hold me
or scare away boys
or watch me grow
into someone
he could be proud of


But if he were real
I would forgive him anyway
Because the father I made up
Is the only one I’ve got
And that’s okay

Illustration by Vivi Hashiguchi
Instagram: @ViViHashiguchi

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