Effictio


Effictio (ef-fik’-ti-o): A verbal depiction of someone’s body, often from head to toe.

Note: This figure was used in forensic rhetoric (legal argumentation) for purposes of clearly identifying an alleged criminal. It has often been adapted to poetical uses.

His head was shaped like an heirloom tomato–sort of elliptical with veined bumps running from front to back on the shaved part where his hair used to be.  His eyes were covered with a strip of spray-painted cardboard: flat red with little peepholes poked in it so he could see. His ears were pinned back like left and right side mirrors on a car ready to go through a car wash.   His neck looked like a scuffed traffic cone perched on his shoulders which were slumped and narrow like the back of a bentwood chair. His arms were fat fire hoses swinging as he walked toward me, clutching a big blue bucket with skinny little baby hotdog fingers accented by filthy fingernails.

His black t-shirt said in big bright-green letters: “Repent Or I will Pull Down My Pants.” His “pants” were two trash bags stapled to his T-shirt.

I was thinking “How’s he going to pull his pants down without ripping his T-shirt?”

I felt a shiver in my spine.

“Oh my God, it’s dad in his annual ‘surprise’ Halloween costume!”

I picked up a rock from the gutter and considered throwing it at him. Instead, I put it in his bucket.

“You may need this when the kids over on 85th street chase you like they did last year.”

“Do you remember, Dad?”

He looked at me with his cardboard-covered eyes and blew a tenor fart that slowly faded into the sound of a doleful tuba.

  • Post your own effictio on the “Comments” page!

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu).

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