The narrator’s mother comes to his house to help him with measurements holding the tape while he walks away shows him moving away from her while she still holds on. The narrator is looking forward to being independent but is also slightly scared if he’ll succeed without his mom but there are hints she’ll always be there for him

Ideas and Themes:

  • Family relationships
  • Independence
  • Getting older


  • The first stanza is about how he needs his mother, second is where he explores independence
  • In the last stanza, he understands “something/Has to give” if he wants to be independent
  • The poem ends with him unsure of whether he will fall or fly


  • Loosely written like a sonnet showing he still loves his mother. Unlike a sonnet, it has an irregular rhyme scheme showing he doesn’t know if he still loves his mum or not which reflects uncertainty
  • The last uneven lines show how they are both at breaking point


  • “single span”- this is the distance greater than his own hands showing he needs his mother to help him and her support is still vital to him.
  • “Span…hands//doors…floors” Former is a half-rhyme latter is a full rhyme, showing dislocation
  • “acres of the walls, the prairies of the floors”- Metaphors and hyperbole create images of adventure but also shows he feels daunted
  • “unreeling years between us. Anchor. Kite”- Tape represents shared history but enjambment shows them both moving on. The mother is the “anchor” trying to hold back the son who is the “kite” trying to fly free away from her. The 2 one-word sentences slow down the pace of the poem suggesting he feels apprehensive and thoughtful
  • “to the breaking point where something has to give”- Relationship needs to change eventually
  • “your fingertips still pinch…to the last one-hundredth of an inch…”- “pinch” emphasizes how desperately she’s holding on and suggests pain. “the last one-hundredth of an inch” shows she’s there till the very end but eventually let’s go shown by ellipsis
  • “towards a hatch that opens on an endless sky to fly or fall”“endless sky” shows he thinks the possibilities of being independent are limitless. “To fly or fall” is bird imagery suggesting that he’s breaking free of his mother’s grasp but he doesn’t know if he’ll succeed.
author avatar
William Anderson (Schoolworkhelper Editorial Team)
William completed his Bachelor of Science and Master of Arts in 2013. He current serves as a lecturer, tutor and freelance writer. In his spare time, he enjoys reading, walking his dog and parasailing. Article last reviewed: 2022 | St. Rosemary Institution © 2010-2024 | Creative Commons 4.0


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