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?


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”


By Brett Ann Stanciu

Brett Ann Stanciu lives with her two daughters in Hardwick, Vermont. Her creative nonfiction book, Unstitched: My Journey to Understand Opioid Addiction and How People and Communities Can Heal, will be published by Steerforth Press in September 2021. Her novel about rural life in Vermont, Hidden View, was published in 2015.

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