The narrator of the poem is looking forward to her lover returning home at the end of his workday. As she waits, she is reminiscing about their relationship in the past.
They have been lovers for an unknown number of years, starting while she was still living with her mother and their lovemaking was in secret. Now their relationship is established and open, but there are still reminders of the way it started.
"How to use the afternoon like the stretch of lawn spread before me" - in the past, the lovers would have used that area as a location for making love.
The woman is pregnant. Her blouse is stretched tightly over breasts that are becoming swollen as the pregnancy progresses - "the swollen magnolias heavy as a flock of birds in the tree." Further confirmation of the pregnancy is the reference to the "cake...rising in the oven.
The final stanza creates a strong parallel between the narrator and Rapunzel. Both, as young women kept from their lovers, used their long hair as well as ropes made of sheets, to enable the forbidden callers to climb unseen into their chambers after the mother or guardian was asleep.
The poem celebrates the validation of love, both because they can be together whenever and wherever they wish and because their love is being affirmed through the birth of their child.