The poem opens with a melancholic mood. We enter the hospital with the daughter and picture the mother:
on a high bed next to sad chrysanthemums
high bed suggests a distance as if her mother is separated from her because of her illness. It also implies the mother is elevated, the focal point of the room and the central focus of the poem.
The transferred epithet used in
sad chrysanthemums conveys the daughter’s emotion. This, followed by the verbs
wilt and die implies that the illness is severe. The flowers take on the image of the mother’s fading strength and the concern of her visitors.
The repetition of the first line at the end of the stanza emphasise the speaker’s fear. It suggests worried thoughts are going round and round in her head as she struggles to deal with seeing her mother so ill.
Stanza two introduces the title of the poem. Lucozade is just one of the traditional gifts the mother rejects.
Lucozade was created as a drink to provide energy for people who were ill. Up until the 1980s it continued to be seen as an aid to recovery from sickness.
Orange nostalgia implies this traditional association with illness.
Through her dwindling energy and semi-conscious state, the mother is still able to reject this:
Don't bring Lucozade
It is clear that she wants nothing to do with the conventions of illness. By rejecting symbols of illness she may be rejecting illness itself.
Stanza three develops this idea as she dismisses the
Woman's Own. Magazines are another typical gift that visitors bring to hospitals.
Kay creates a sense of the mother’s unease and her distrust of the situation. A
swarm of eyes stare at her. This conveys her feeling of being scrutinized and objectified. The metaphor also portrays the image of visitors, doctors, nurses all gathering round her in a suffocating manner.
The doctors tell
white lies. This suggests that they are keeping information from her. But she seems to want to confront her illness head on.