The use of anecdote in the poem humanises the speaker, which makes the audience feel sorry for her. The loss of a beloved son is universally recognised as a traumatic event, which the audience is likely to consider when approaching some of the graver imagery throughout the poem.
The speaker uses the connotations of injury by using the verb “bandaged” which implies the idea that the mother constantly has the potential injuries of her son on her mind. Simultaneously, the implications of “steeled” imply that although the speaker may be fearing the worst, she is attempting to stay as strong as “steel.”
Time markers such as “later”, “after” and “a split second” allow the audience to gage the very complex shifts in tense throughout the poem. Due to the fact that the speaker shifts from present tense and its current events to past tense with reminiscence of her possibly dead son, it is important that the audience keeps up with the ongoing monologue.
The author also uses ambiguity throughout the poem to hook the audience and allow them to speculate in the typical fashion. “traced the inscriptions on the war memorial” implies that the speaker was seeking closure- either looking for her own son’s name already on the memorial, or just like the audience, speculating about what may be happening to her son by connecting with pre-existing history.