Stanzas seven to eleven

Her face is fading fast.

The poet struggles to remember her mother after their meeting. her voice metaphorically rushes through a tunnel away from her as she forgets its sound. This reminds us of the different train stations used in stanza three to highlight the distance between them.

In trying to recall her, Kay lists items of dress - a paisley pattern scarf, a brooch, a navy coat - but she significantly fails to mention her mother’s face, her expressions and gestures.

In stanza nine what the mother is wearing takes on more personal significance. A digital watch reveals that she had another daughter who died. This provides an interesting parallel:

  • Does the mother tell the story of one daughter without registering that the woman in front of her is also her daughter?
  • Does she place more importance on the life of one child over the other?
  • Or does she regret giving her daughter away, feeling that she has lost both?

The mother's hands are awkward and hard to hold. She seems unable to be tactile with her daughter, detached in nature or ill at ease with this reunion. The use of enjambment spilling into the first line of stanza eleven: fold and unfold works with the assonance to portray the continual discomfort at being forced to confront her past.

Compressed. Airtight.

Stanza eleven confirms that the mother keeps the story of her life These minor sentences suggest that the mother has perhaps simplified her story in order to deal with her actions. She is now unprepared to look back to her past and dig up the detail and complexity.

We do not know whether the love letters mentioned are from Kay’s father, but the implication is that the mother has kept her past deeply concealed while she pursued a new life. The repetition of the indefinite articles a sad square, a crumpled shape, a box... suggests her detachment from these items as well as the strangeness they must have for Kay as she sees them for the first time.