A Father's Nightmare
By Victor Xia
11th grade, Lakeside School, WA
With lines from “China: Black Market Babies” by Sushma Subramanian and Deborah Jian Lee, a Pulitzer Center reporting project
She was stolen from me.
Such a small thing,
it seemed. Petty, simple extortion.
She wasn’t a pretty baby, always had
her nose scrunched up,
always throwing a fuss.
Always throwing a fuss,
but not when they took her.
My baby girl, I think of
what I could’ve done
if you had called louder,
for Ba Ba,
shook the chickens from their
roosts, told me what your grandparents
couldn’t tell me until it was too late.
They could’ve told me but it was too late,
because the phone connection
doesn’t always work, and
our house in the village is so old
the walls and ceiling are cracked.
We used to worry the bricks might
fall when the wind blew hard. That
the rafters might shake
with your cries.
Without your cries,
here in Shenzhen, our days were long and hard,
and we lived in a small dorm. The morning
the government took you I looked east,
to your smile, waxing
in the filmy heat. What I would
have given, then, to know;
the secret folded
in a breath of wind on my cheek.
She was already stolen from me,
and I didn’t know.
Victor Xia is a rising senior at Lakeside School in Seattle, WA. As a second-generation Chinese-American, he's an active advocate for artistic creation and representation in his own community. A youth poet ambassador for his city as well as a dedicated filmmaker, Victor believes in pushing the limits of traditional genres of storytelling while engaging with urgent, new narratives. He's grateful for this opportunity to help the Pulitzer Center highlight underreported issues, and is still grappling with the responsibility of a piece like this one.