Wednesday, November 2, 2022

Selected Works, Tamiko Dooley


are you here

again you love

can I see you


There are things you learn

From doing the same job every day

Tasks you repeat OVER and over

Like, aren’t we all the same?

Plugging in the hose 

The brushes out for meticulous scrubbing

Pulling the hazmat on MY legs

Elasticated cap, gloves, rubber boots

Nothing to be afraid of

They’re already DEAD

Pressure-wash them down

Blast that Stravinsky, something dramatic 

Vaseline in the nostrils

Doesn’t help with the smell

You leave, throw away the suit

The smell penetrates through

When you take a shower that night

You sniff it on your skin

So you scour your naked BODY clean

I mean, 

Isn’t that what you’ve been doing all day, anyway?


On a bright autumnal afternoon
When the sun’s behind me
And my back begins to warm

I think of you

That shaft of afternoon light
That used to reach the middle of your bedsheets
College house, single dorm
Your desk lumbered with
Tacitus and Virgil, Sallust and Homer

On a Friday after double Greek was done
I’d find you there
Eyes closed, smiling
Your skin glowing

When I leaned in towards you
The heat would hit the nape of my neck
With the strength of blazing rays
That scorched Icarus’ wings
To slowly melt the wax.

Tokeru (Melting)

you watched me catch with my tongue
the drips that threatened to
slither down the cone onto my hand
and laughed, kimi ga waratta

ahead kite surfers and jet skis roared across the Okinawa skyline
the Pacific tide was creeping towards our toes
waves pounding the shore louder and closer

and when you leaned towards me and
licked a drop of my matcha ice-cream 
to save it falling

the icy fingers of the umi gripped my legs


I glimpsed you from the shore
Footprints leading to the water
Blurred sand and gritty salt

I had been stumbling through 
The thicket for hours
Losing my sense of direction
Aiming for the open sea

I kept thinking I saw you
In disguise, hidden behind palm leaves

When the branches finally parted
You appeared
Waving from your broken boat
A battered shipwreck

It started to rain 
As the drops began to lash down on me
It became harder to see
The wind seemed to take you away

I thought I saw you
Blurred and gritty drops
Began to sting my eyes

I was losing my sense of direction

I glimpsed you from the shore

A shipwreck

Aiming for the open sea

Tamiko reads Latin and French at New College, Oxford. She was the winner of the BBC Radio 3 carol competition 2021.

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