To My Son

It is not
thrift prevents my
gushing hot suds over you. Nor
merely that
you would be
embarrassed. It is that
soap would rot your skin, hot water
melt your bones. You are
allergic to warmth and fragrance. I maintain
a tepid bath for you, free from any taint of
sweetness. And that
is love even though it
feels like

I know I
should love you for what you
are. But I
hate what you are. I love
who you were, and what you
might have been. I run your baths for
duty’s sake; and for
pity’s sake. And that is
love even though it feels like

Debussy and the Maple Tree: a ghazal

Your dark eyes and bright soul hold tender resolution.
The tree outside my window powerful and delicate.

Notes trip and tumble a sweet green dance,
Intricate, insistent stamp – gold shimmers sensuous leaves.

Soon this tree will flame with your passion
But today it reflects a greyer sky.

From depths a magpie bursts. A pigeon swoops.
They pass like cars at a junction – indifferent.

Should life narrow to the maple tree and Claude,
I still will have it all.

Ann Copeland

Mental Arithmetic

Dead reckoning
The angle of depression
From a moving reference point.

Casting out nines at a tangent,
Reciprocal, oblique,
Beta minus one.

A lateral area of ambiguous triangles,
A transitive relation,
The significant figure
A negative quality.

The calculation of moments,
A null set,
The continuous probability of minus one.

Ann Copeland

The Watcher


I am the watcher,

The looker-on at life.

I keep to a corner

And, in my mind’s eye,

Measure the colours in the clouds,

Their rose and pink and silver;

Their rolling folds in shades of grey.

I count waves as they reach the shore,

Time the shadows’ shift from west to east,

Then track each young girl’s path

From hope to grief.

When busy people say I have not lived,

I sigh to think of all that they have missed.

Ann Copeland