Their tiny eyes lit like chips of emerald…

Reading time: Less than 2 minutes

I like to share interesting pieces of figurative language I encounter in my reading. I write today about a host of metaphors from Lorrie Moore…

The coming-of-age story of a young woman in the ’70s, in upstate New York, Who Will Run the Frog Hospital is a novel by Lorrie Moore that offers more than an engaging plot.

It also displays some very fine figurative language. Here are my favourite examples:

  • I imagined these frogs now scattered through the woods, their tiny eyes lit like chips of emerald, while their pumping whistle-chant —part summons, part yearning lullaby— piped through the night.
  • She was beautiful — her eyes a deep, black-flecked aquamarine, her skin smooth as soap, her hair long and slit-colored but with an oriole yellow streak here and there catching the sun the way a river does.
  • Her face—with its long nose cut like a diamond, her cheekbones flying off to either side in a crucifix— looked stark and dramatic in this light.
  • The thick pelts of our eyebrows shrieked across our faces, some legacy of the Quebec fur trade. Hers were faint and wispy, like an aerial shot of grain.
  • But then he has fallen over the cliff of sleep and is snoring, his adenoids a kind of engine in his face, a motorized unit, a security system like a white flag going up..
  • Tree crickets and katydids sang with the ceaseless squawk of a clothesline pulley, all that endless hanging of laundry in the night. Please! We don’t want to hear about it!
  • Strung alone the same wire of song, we lost ourselves; out of separate rose and lavender mouths we formed a single living thing, like a hyacinth.

My favourite metaphor of the bunch? I think, perhaps, it’s the crickets and katydids who sound like a clothesline pulley. I remember the wirey creak of that from my own youth.

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