What the Heck is Figurative Language, Anyway?

On my drive to work, I wind through a spidery maze of dirt roads through Woodbury and Calais before I hit the paved County Road and sail into Montpelier. The drive, while long, is exquisitely lovely, changing from fall’s florescence to this winter’s sparkling white. Just after I hit the main road, I always glance at a red farmhouse to my right where whoever lives there has stacked firewood in a round pile, fanning out from a center. I always look to see if they’ve started to burn that wood yet.

So far, not yet. I’m guessing there’s a stash behind the rambling farmhouse, and those folks haven’t wanted to dig into this craftily-stacked wood.

Yesterday, driving on slushy and messy roads, a crow flew before my windshield right at that house, flying so near I could see its shiny eye, orange drape of tongue, a white chunk of breakfast in its mouth.

I once garnered those things as a sign of something, but yesterday it occurred to me that maybe the crow was merely hungry, flying in a hurry back home to eat.

Sign enough?

Surely.

I kept driving into the accumulating snowfall.

….Crow flies around the reservation
and collects empty beer bottles

but they are so heavy
he can only carry one at a time.

So, one by one, he returns them
but gets only five cents a bottle.

Damn, says Crow, redemption
is not easy….

Sherman Alexie, “Crow Testament”

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