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Why Writers Love Water Metaphors

By David Bersell From Issue No. 2

Because we are born drowning.

Because a boat is a house that never feels safe.

Because beer, whiskey, and wine.

Because coffee, because tea.

Because water is a body and there is always something at the bottom.

Because relationships are like rivers, are like storms, are like sex, are like waves, holding breath, hot ice, the great flood.

Because we also love roots and branches, petals and leaves.

Because sweat tastes like each other.

Because when Joan Didion was seventeen, she lost control of her raft on a river near Sacramento. She was opening a tin of anchovies, with capers, as the raft whirled though a narrow passage. She was “deliriously happy.”

Because Nick Flynn’s grandfather invented the life raft. And Nick Flynn lived on a boat after his mother committed suicide. And his father was homeless and had nothing to protect him from the weather.

Because it rains in Sacramento and it rains in Brooklyn and it rains in Portland and it rains in small, boring towns, too, towns with one bar and a thousand houses and a million children with a millions mouths like fish darting through glass.

Because my family paddled down rapids with life vests and helmets, and the raft bounced under our thighs and the water cooled our skin, but if there wasn’t a guide steering us, we would have paddled into space, orbited, holding hands and praying to the milky blue.

Because water circles the drain, and everything is connected, I swear, this is water, so cold it hurts your teeth, save your life, flowing in two directions at once water.

About David Bersell More From Issue No. 2