Imagery - Sequence

Word order is an important and often slippery trigger in a reader’s mental picture-making. Consider a poem beginning with the simile “I paddle, duck-like”. The first two words “I paddle” may spring the image of dipping a canoe paddle in the water. Immediately, “duck-like” overturns the boat, as the next line reveals that the paddling comparison is to swimming instead. Reversing the order can be just as tricky, when “duck-like” flashes with feathers and beak, and even a bizarre split second of wondering if “I” is a  bird-man. A reader should not be forced to instantly readjust the mental picture midstream. Better to rewrite completely.