Rudy Francisco
In one of my earliest memories,
I am eight years old,
I have a fistful of afternoon,
and I am asking the summer
if it will always be this glorious.

I remember taking a deep breath.
Trying to get as much July into my lungs
as humanly possible and thinking maybe
I'd be able to convince it that 31 days just isn't enough.

In my neighborhood,
owning a Slip 'N Slide made you a royal family.

In my neighborhood,
we'd run through sprinklers
like someone who wasn't the boss of us said we couldn't.
Back then the water seemed endless.

Like it didn't have limits
and corners and edges,
like no matter where we were,
if we called out for water,
it would always come running.

When I was a kid,
dragons and droughts
were two things I read about in books,
but never thought I'd actually have to deal with.
I was born and raised in California.
And here, our models and rivers
look like they're on the same diet.
Throughout the years,
I've watched both get smaller and now
I can see their ribs when they exhale.

In California,
our freeways are decorated with signs
that ask us to be careful about how
we use the water.

They hang like an eviction notice
from the environment. I wonder
how long it will take the planet
to tell us we can't live here
and the locks are changed.

I wonder how long it'll be before
my shower becomes a relic,
before my sink tries to change occupations,
before the knobs on my faucet become
roulette wheels, before my hands rain dance
around the spout, hoping a drop will spill from
its neck. I wonder if the next generation
will know water the way I did.
The way it runs through the fingers,
the way it wrinkles the hands,
cools the skin, the way it freezes,
flakes and kisses the ground
on the cheek.

I wonder if my grandkids will
ever throw a penny in a fountain

and hear it splash.