One of the hallmarks of Native American poetry is its use of concrete visual imagery

Although the narrator of the poem is positioned inside the car, the car itself is hardly described. The poet mentions is that it is a car, that it has headlights that both blind the toads and illuminate the old man’s white hair, and that while the old man keeps getting in and out, the narrator remains inside, impatient to continue the journey. On the other hand, the imagery of the natural world is very concrete and specific, which indicates that this is where the poet wants to draw our attention. The poem describes a rainy night, when headlights blind small animals, an occurrence that readers might take for granted. The road is covered with very small toads, for a long enough distance that the narrator is forced to stop over and over again. The toads are as numerous asthe raindrops; they are compared to life itself, and in their smallness and wetness they are very vulnerable. The contrast between the image of a tiny toad, just past the transition from tadpole, and the tires of a speeding automobile could not be starker. While saving the toads, the old man appears to the narrator to be up to his knees in the very essence of nature itself. The specificity of the images of the natural world compared to the lack of specificity of images of the car is a clear indication of where the poet wants the audience to direct its attention. Just as the old man draws the narrator’s attention to the importance and vulnerability of the natural world, so too does Bruchac draw the audience’s attention to the same thing.




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Mann Erudite – Essays on Literary Works