The poet begins to create a picture of a woman who lives a life close to the soil in this rural landscape.
Her work is physically demanding, both out of doors and within her house. She is often barefoot but if shod, wears practical
men's boots and the poet clearly admires her completing these tasks with capability.
We see her engaged in one of the duties of her domestic life, spinning. This is a skill heavily associated with island life - Harris is famous for producing tweed.
The long line
paddling with the treadle of the spinningwheel accentuates the lengthiness of the spinning process. It also creates a sense of movement and activity which MacCaig associates with his aunt.
In almost every description of her in the poem she is either in motion or speaking. This creates stark contrast with the shocking, silent finality of her death in the final stanza.
As he continues to recall the spinning process, the description of
her right hand drew yarn/marvellously out of the air conveys the air of magic or illusion about the task. It is almost entrancing for the young boy watching.
The long vowels in
her hand drew yarn elongate the line. This helps to convey the impression of the wool being stretched out and made taut. The use of the present tense throughout this stanza creates a sense of immediacy and shows how vividly and readily he can still access these memories.