My maternal grandmother, Alice, was an alcoholic, a fact I discovered in later life. But she had a fine singing voice – some said it was of operatic quality. The poem is based on an actual memory. She was, in her younger years, a dark-haired, buxom woman, but I only knew her as wrinkled and white-haired, aged beyond her years. She was 54 when she died. The structure of the poem is straightforward and simple, echoing a child’s voice.