This poem is based on a photo of the poet's mother when she was a young woman, laughing with two friends, that the poet found and then uses as the basis for a recreation of her mother's life, partly through this photograph and how she imagined her mother to be and also through the memories she had of her mother when she was growing up with her. Consider the following quote from the third stanza:
I remember my hands in those high-heeled red shoes, relics,
and now your ghost clatters toward me over George Square
till I see you, clear as scent, under the tree...
Note the metaphor in the way that the "high-heeled red shoes" are described as being "relics." This indicates the way that they are significant of the past of the poet's mother before she was born, and the vibrant, happy person that she was. These shoes become almost windows for the poet as they allow her to see and imagine her mother having trysts with lovers. There is also onomatopoeia in the word "clatters" that helps capture the sound that the ghost of her mother's former self makes as the poet imagines her meeting one of her lovers. Note too finally the simile in "clear as scent" which brings a vividness and vibrancy to the scene that the poet describes as her younger mother meets with her lover "under the tree." The language devices therefore help greatly in coveying the image and impression that the poet creates as she shares her mother's imagined past as she sees it with the reader.