The final stanza opens with the conjunctive
But to indicate a change in the writer’s line of thought as she meditates on the inevitability of change and adaptation.
She uses the second person
you forget, or don’t recall to directly expose the often fragile nature of childhood memory.
The speaker in this stanza is older and more reflective as she considers her own gradual transition.
Recalling seeing her brother
swallow a slug refers back to the boys eating worms in the second stanza and implies that this act is evidence that he has fully assimilated into his new home, with the simple alliteration indicating that this was a straightforward process for him.
However, the deliberate employment of the Scottish dialect in the phrase
a skelf of shame reveals that she still feels attached to her Scottish roots and is unwilling to fully relinquish the last traces of her Scottish dialect.
While her brothers have successfully adapted, she still feels out of place and like a splinter, memories of her former life continue to trouble her.
While she remembers eventually her
tongue shedding its skin like a snake and her
voice/ in the classroom sounding just like the rest there is a definite implication that, despite these outward signs she has adapted, she continues to feel out of place.
As the poet moves towards her conclusion, she asks the first of three questions:
Do I only think/I lost a river, culture, speech, sense of first space/and the right place? It is this question that the poet has been attempting to answer throughout the entire poem and yet still by the end she is nowhere nearer to a resolution.
In asking this, she challenges both herself and us to consider our own notions of self and identity.
The deliberate inversion of
I only again emphasises her feelings of isolation and separateness from the other members of her family during this period
By the end of the poem it is clear that the poet is no closer to defining her identity. When asked the question
Where do you come from? she still has to qualify and clarify this simple query with the response
This momentary hesitation reveals that even though she is older, the speaker continues to have mixed feeling about her true origins.