Stanzas thirteen to fifteen

A door opens and closes

This meeting obviously affects the poet, but again this is described in a detached manner. As well as describing the actual door in the café or venue in which they are meeting this experience metaphorically ‘opens the door’ to her past, but only briefly.

Time is outside waiting

This sentence conveys the idea that time itself is suspended. The poet has come away from her everyday life to meet her mother. But once the meeting is over she must return to her current situation.

Final lines

Boiling water makes flowers live longer. So does/ cutting the stems with a sharp knife.

The final lines return to the orchids. Kay appears to be almost quoting instructions for prolonging the life of flowers. Both boiling water and cutting the stems with a sharp knife sound harsh actions but they do keep the flowers alive. They could suggest the mother’s decision to put her child up for adoption, as she felt it was the best life for her.

In this context cutting the stems could signify the wrench as mother and daughter are separated, as well as the cutting of the umbilical cord after birth. It implies that this relationship was cut off in its infancy.

However, we could also read the final lines as a comment on the new relationship between mother and daughter. Is this something that should be nurtured and allowed to grow or should it be dismissed? Should they simply sever ties and stop trying to resuscitate a bond broken so long ago?

Ultimately, Kay does not know how to keep this strange new relationship with its closed buds and secrets. Perhaps she needs to be more forthright, equipping herself with a sharp knife to cut the stems after this first awkward meeting.