What Is the Poem “A Simile” by N. Scott Momaday About?

“A Simile” uses deer walking in the woods poised for flight as a simile to describe a relationship. The two people seem to have undergone an event to bring about a change in their relationship.

The poem “A Simile” consists of mostly that, a simile. There are eight lines in the poem, and seven of the lines make up the simile. Only the first line says what is happening in actuality, but it is an important clue as to the meaning of the poem. That first line reads, “What did we say to each other…” This immediately clues the reader in to the fact something important was said between two people. The rest of the lines tell the reader that whatever was said caused a conflict. The people the poem refers to are now “as the deer,” whose limbs are full of “latent flight.” After what was said in the first line, the people are now flighty towards each other, perhaps frightened of what may come.

The simplicity of this poem is very powerful, and the simile itself is artfully crafted. Just by likening the two people that had the conflict to deer, so much is said about what their relationship is now like. The image of deer walking through the woods, always watchful and ready to flee at the slightest signal, is powerful and does all the work for N. Scott Momaday in this poem.