"...before Armistice Sunday... Before you left..."
The repetition of 'before' reveals that there is no hope in war - poppies have been placed on the 'individual war graves' before they've even died. It also emphasises the parallel between national and personal mourning and remembrance.
1 of 22
"...individual war graves."
This is an ominous reminder that war kills individuals, so the loss is personal.
2 of 22
"...spasms of paper red, disrupting a blockade..."
The word 'spasms' makes the reader think of an injured body. All these words reflect the violence of death and the word 'blockade' suggests that she feels shut out from her son's life.
3 of 22
"...your blazer."
This could be a school uniform as well as an army one. It suggests innocence.
4 of 22
"Sellotape bandaged around my hand..."
This is another image of being wounded. She is emotionally wounded and he might be wounded in war.
5 of 22
"...white cat hairs..."
The colour of 'white' could symbolise surrendor - she needs to let him go.
6 of 22
"...smoothed down your shirt's upturned collar..."
This shows the maternal side and how she still treats him like a child.
7 of 22
"...steeled the softening of my face."
The sibilance here emphasises how she is trying to be brave and not show emotion. It could reflect the sound of sobbing that she is not trying to do.
8 of 22
"...play at being Eskimos like we did when you were little."
This contrasts with the harsh reality he faces now.
9 of 22
"...the gelled blackthorns of your hair."
The metaphor suggests he is no longer a child; but a man, as he has begun to style his hair. His prickly hair suggests he's unapproachable. The harsh word of 'blackthorns' is at juxtaposition to the sadness of the poem. Jesus = thorns-sacrifice.
10 of 22
"...threw it open..."
The sudden movement suggests breaking a boudary.
11 of 22
"...like a treasure chest."
The simile shows the world from the son's perspective - makes it sound exciting and full of precious experiences. He sees war as an exciting adventure. The fairytale imagery links to his child.
12 of 22
The son's excitement contrasts with his mother's sadness.
13 of 22
"...released a song bird from its cage."
This is symbolic of her son leaving - "flying the nest."
14 of 22
"...single dove..."
Doves are a symbol of peace but also mourning - foreshadows death. The word 'single' could suggest that she is lonely, as he was an only child.
15 of 22
"...my stomach busy making tucks, darts, pleats..."
The sewing imagery conveys her nervousness and physical feelings of anxiety - she's trying to keep herself busy.
16 of 22
"...without a winter coat or reinforcements..."
The battle imagery here makes her sound vunerable and unprotected.
17 of 22
"...the inscriptions on the war memorial..."
This is a reminder of the risks her son faces - Is she wishing him safety? Or seeing his name on the memorial?
18 of 22
"...like a wishbone."
The strong visual image hints at her wish for his safety. Wishbones are fragile and once broken they're in 2 pieces. One half could be the son and the other the mother - shows their broken relationship. Some soldiers will be the 'lucky' and come back
19 of 22
"The dove pulled freely against the sky..."
Dove's usually represent peace and freedom but here it is going 'against it.'
20 of 22
"...an ornamental stitch."
This strong visual image of something in a vast space represents her son. The 'ornamental stitch' is preicous which could reflect the injuries. It could be the design of war or her heart.
21 of 22
"...your playground voice catching on the wind."
This could be an echo of the past and death - suggests that he has died.
22 of 22

Other cards in this set

Card 2


"...individual war graves."


This is an ominous reminder that war kills individuals, so the loss is personal.

Card 3


"...spasms of paper red, disrupting a blockade..."


Preview of the front of card 3

Card 4


"...your blazer."


Preview of the front of card 4

Card 5


"Sellotape bandaged around my hand..."


Preview of the front of card 5
View more cards


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