What does the word ‘cardboard’ denote in the poem ? Why has this word been used ?
The word ‘cardboard’ has been used for the mother’s photograph. Now the photograph is just a cardboard because the mother is already dead.
What has the camera captured ?
The camera has captured three little girls. One of them is the poet’s mother. The other two are the mother’s girl cousins. Each of them is holding one hand of the mother. The mother was then just a girl of twelve. All the three girls are smiling through their flying hair. They are standing in shallow water on the sea beach.
What has not changed over the years ? Does this suggest something to you ?
The sea has not changed over the years but a great change has come over those who once paddled on its beach. It suggests that while human life is terribly transient, the sea has always remained the same.
The poet’s mother laughed at the snapshot. What did this laugh indicate ?
It shows that the mother had a happy childhood. She feels amused when she looks at her childhood photograph.
What is the meaning of the line : ‘Both wry with the laboured ease of loss.’
The poet here brings out a similarity between her mother's face and her own face. Both the faces had turned wry due to the intense feeling of their great loss. The mother had lost the joys of her childhood. The poet had lost the laughter of her mother who was now dead.
What does ‘this circumstance’ refer to ?
It refers to the present mental state of the poet. She feels terribly sad and lonely without her mother.
The three stanzas depict three different phases. Name them.
The first phase refers to the time when the poet’s mother was just a girl of twelve. The second phase refers to the time when the poet lived with her mother. The mother was then in her thirties or forties. The third phase shows how sad and lonely the poet feels without her mother. The mother has been dead for more than twelve years.