As Dry and Warm as Southern California by An Lin Hunt-Babcock

I wonder 
where’d all this water come from?

Even though you complain
about my oily hair, the dirt beneath my nails, you still hate
the water bill the most and I don’t blame you
I blame the rivers we’re stealing from

Because they’re all speaking French and seductively tongues
the syllables of suburban homes for soil and call it

You force me to smile with my teeth,
Say I didn’t get you braces for anything
I remember to pay back everything 
you’ve ever given me when I am a millionaire

When I watch you from my window,
I joke around about your will,
telling you I want your pearl necklace 
You make a mental note, I start your eulogy

You jaywalk and call it being a New Yorker
Encourage me 
to start knowing how to write checks to the water company
wear high heels and a thong

You’re a cat with a long tail that urges me to come closer
          I don’t want to
I’ve been here too many times and I’m afraid
of you when you’re like this

With your all-American spirit, you sip the water
from the hose, mix your teeth into the metallic tastes
          I don’t want to 
join, in my bathing suit on a summer’s day anymore

So I will sit in this window and watch you for as long as I can
Even when my scalp is eyeless, stretched to its limit, 
you will knead it
with the same palms you’re holding the hose while it keeps pouring

An Lin Hunt-Babcock is an Asian American writer whose work has been published in the 2021 Fall/Winter Edition of Élan Literary Magazine, Teen Ink Magazine, and Binsey Poplar Press. Her high school senior portfolio won a Regional Gold Key at the 2021 Scholastic Art & Writing Awards and she was a finalist in the 2019 William Faulkner Short Story Writing Competition. She is currently an undergraduate at the University of California, Berkeley.