I tried to tell her:
This way the twig is bent.
Born of my trunk and strengthened by my roots,
You must stretch newgrown branches
Closer to the sun
Than I can reach.
I wanted to say:
Extend my self to that far atmosphere
Only my dreams allow.
But the twig broke,
And yesterday I saw her
Walking down an unfamiliar street,
Face slanted upward toward a threatening sky,
She was smiling
And she was
Her very free,
Her very individual,
That's the poem. The speaker is a mother talking about her daughter.
In the first stanza, she describes the daughter not really as a separate individual, but as just a continuation of herself, a twig sprouting from her trunk. She wants nothing but good things for her daughter -- all that stuff about stretching closer to the sun -- but she wants to express her hopes and aspirations by telling the girl, "Extend my self."
Then in the second stanza, she talks about the realization that her daughter has grown into an independent young woman. She's not just an extension of her mother. She's her own self. And the mother seems proud and happy about that. As the daughter has grown, it seems that the mother's thinking as also grown and evolved. She's OK with letting go and acknowledging her daughter's separateness and individuality.