By Shirley Toulson
The poem, ‘A photograph’, contrasts the eternal state of nature and the transitory state of human beings. The poet describes a photograph that captures interesting moments of her mother’s childhood when she went for a sea holiday with her two girl cousins. The poet draws a contrast between nature, changing at a snail’s pace and the fast-changing human life.
The poet recollects how her mother laughed at the photograph and felt disappointed at the loss of her childhood joys. The sea holiday was her mother’s past at that time, while her mother’s laughter is the poet’s past now. With great difficulty and at different periods of time, both reconcile with their respective losses and the pain involved in recollecting the past. For the poet, the death of her mother brings great sadness and an acute sense of loss. The painful ‘silence’ of the situation leaves her with no words to express her grief. Thus, the ‘silence silences’ her.
The three stanzas of the poem depict three different stages of life i.e. early adolescence (girlhood).adulthood and death.