Hypallage (hy-pal’-la-ge): Shifting the application of words. Mixing the order of which words should correspond with which others. Also, sometimes, a synonym for metonymy (see Quintilian).

I ate the lonely candy. I was by myself on the deck we built together last summer. I want to sleep, but all I can do is taste the bitterness that’s spread across my regret—like a spoiled condiment or a piece of Taylor Ham gone bad after spending a month in my refrigerator’s meat drawer. Slowly rotting, etched green around the edges, smelling like the decaying corpse of a small rodent—a walled hamster, or something the cat dragged in and stashed behind a chair or the couch. Regardless, the sad couch offers little comfort. I make tea and it tastes like iron filings mixed with motor oil. I don’t know. It is somewhat frightening. I dump it into the sink. I grab the scotch and pour a healthy measure, almost filling the glass. I take a gulp, in two seconds the patron scotch sends waves of warmth through my sad body. I slump. I sleep. I’m awakened by a pounding on my door. My house is in flames. I breathe deeply of the thickening smoke. I cough. I choke. I pass out. An angel shakes me and reaches out her hand. I wake up in the hospital. I am all alone. I don’t want to be here. I want to be dead. Then you come through the door carrying a bunch of roses. You stand there with tears running down your cheeks. You tell me what you’ve been doing since you dumped me. Then you tell me it was you who pulled me out of my burning house—that you saved my life. I am taken aback, but not far enough to forgive you for abandoning me or to thank you for saving my life. I throw the roses at you and tell you to go away— to go haunt some other sucker. You leave. My lovely nurse returns to my room. She brought me some candy. She has such an open and vulnerable look in her eyes. We lock eyes. She makes a barely audible whimpering sound, holds my hand, and kisses me gently, lingering on my forehead. Under my bandages I can feel myself coming back to life.

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

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