Tamiko Dooley


You tell the maths class the joke
About the taxi driver who takes
Japanese people to Harrow
Because that’s what they say
When they get in the vehicle

You were naive to think
Your words would evaporate into the
Musty air of that classroom
And turn to dust

They are carved in my arm
And I inscribe it in blood
I return it to you in an envelope
Marked return to sender

I write this to remind you
That these comments sear the skin
And twenty-four years later
It burns, but with fire

To end the murmurs that hurt
And the quips that sting

To prove that we can converse
Without leaving an aftertaste
On someone else’s tongue.


Tamiko studied Latin and French at New College, Oxford. When there’s no pandemic, she’s hired as a wedding pianist from time to time.