Third section

The third section suggests time passing. The child is growing while the grandmother is possibly shrinking. But her vigour and energy remain unchanged:

She still walks faster, rushing me down the High Street.

To the young girl, the cleaning house is a strange surreal environment:

Rooms lead off like octopus's arms

The simile suggests the alien nature and scale of the house, while the metaphor comparing the piano to a one-winged creature conveys the girl’s feelings of wonder on first seeing such an object, as well as her growing imagination.

The introduction of the ‘posh’ employer brings a new voice to the poem. Her tone is patronising:

beautiful child, skin the colour of café au lait

It is interesting that her language is inaccessible to the grandmother - Café oh what?. It suggests that the women are of different classes, with different ways of speaking.

Later the grandmother is compared to the hunchback of Notre Dame. This relates to her posture but also hints at a character separate from the rest of society with her old ways in her high rise flat.

Despite her detachment she insists on her standards, issuing simple commands: Sit up straight. This suggest a gap between generations and their values. It also contrasts with the hunchback posture of the grandmother.

The final stanza brings us back to the opening lines of the poem by describing the view from her window. The previous calm scene is replaced by ambulances, screaming. The personification here immediately makes us think of the urgency of modern living. By moving home, the grandmother has been forced to experience this world. The reference to ambulances also anticipates her death, bringing an image of sadness to the end of the poem.