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Flashcards in The Way My Mother Speaks Deck (16)
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I say her phrases to myself in my head

First person narration

The fact that Duffy uses first person narration draws the readers attention as it makes the poem seem more personal. "in my head" suggests she has a deep connection with her mother as her words have impacted her and she cannot stop thinking about them.


under the shallows of my breath


The word choice of "shallows" has connotations of water and suggests that Duffy wants to dive deeper into her thoughts on her mother. Water is also very peaceful which suggests that her mother's words bring her peace when she feels anxious about her journey of moving from childhood into adulthood.


restful shapes moving


The "restful shapes" refers to the objects that are outside of the train that is whizzing past them. They also have a metaphorical meaning that represent Duffy's mum's words which go with her wherever Duffy goes.
The restful shapes moving could also suggest that as we grow up, we feel like we are sitting in one place and the world around us is changing just like the way in which we travel on a train, this brings feelings of worry to Duffy.


The day and ever. The day and ever.


Mimicks the sound of the train.

"Ever" suggests that her mothers words will stick with Duffy for a very long time.

"The day and ever" could also suggest that Duffy thinks about her mum and her words during the day and during the night as they are very important to her.


Slow evening

Word choice

"slow" suggests that the both the train journey and her metaphorical journey from childhood into adulthood was taking a long time which gave her time to dwell on her thoughts and feelings.


Browsing for the right sky

Transferred epithet/word choice

"Browsing" suggests that Duffy is looking for something.

"Right sky" suggests that she is looking for a place to settle in. The fact that there is a "right" means that there is also a "wrong" and that Duffy doesn't want to end up there.

"Sky" suggests a horizon which you can never reach as it doesn't actually exist implying that what Duffy is looking for cannot be reached.


Too blue swapped for a cool grey


"blue" a rather vibrant colour represents the joys and excitement of childhood which contrasts to the "grey" which suggests adulthood which is plain and boring as you follow the same routine.

"Too" suggests that the beauty of childhood is too good to last forever.


What like is it


Mimicks the sound of the train.


Nothing is silent. Nothing is not silent.

Double negative/repetition/contrast

The double negative meaning suggests that what exists in the past, stays only in your memories and thoughts and not but is not there physically.

"nothing is silent" also suggests that Duffy feels like she is thinking about nothing when in reality she is thinking about everything at once making it seem as if it is nothing as she cannot concentrate on one specific thought as they are all racing in her head.


Only tonight

Word choice

"only" suggests that the journey from childhood into adulthood is a once in a lifetime experience and therefore, the memory of this change will stay with her forever.


I am happy and sad like a child


Duffy compares her feels of being uncertain about the journey from childhood into adulthood to being like a child as children are ofteb very indecisive and have mood swings. On the one hand she is "happy" about moving into adulthood as she wants to move on and experience life but on the other hand she is "sad" as she feels nostalgic about leaving the joys of childhood behind.


end of summer


Summer is a time of joy and when life seems full of sunshines which symbolises childhood. Therefore she as at the "end of summer" as she moves into 'autumn' which is a time when things fade which symbolises adulthood.


dipped a net

Word choice

Suggests a child's curiosity of the adult world and suggests that children transition into adulthood step by step before they fully emerge to it as is suggested by "dipped"


green, erotic pond

Word choice/symbolism

"green" suggests that the water is mucky and therefore, symbolises that the future is uncertain.

"Erotic pond" symbolises growth and fertility which connotoes puberty therefore, implying that children need to go through puberty which they will know very little about.

The innoncence of a child contrasts with the sexuality of the word "erotic".


Homesick, free


"Homesick" suggests that Duffy misses being home and the safety and comfort of her family home. However, on the other hand she enjoys being "free" as she can do whatever she pleases to and therefore, doesn't necessarily need to be safe which contrasts to "homesick"


in love with the way my mother speaks


Refers to the title and shows that the memory of her mother and her words will always stay with Duffy forever.