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Two poems by Tamiko Dooley


They made her change her name –

The same kanji she’d used since she first picked up a pencil

To mark on paper. Sayaka.

The fortune teller said it was bad luck

For the characters of his surname to mix with hers.

What’s in a name, they’d taught her in Shakespeare class.

She was becoming his wife, after all.

When she was stamping the documents to change it,

She paused. It will still read the same,

The man at the desk had laughed. Just the kanji is different.

Somewhere inside, tectonic plates were shifting,

Distant rumblings threatening to erupt,

Calling her Sayaka, written the way it was supposed to be,

The way it had been since she was born.


He can touch the windowsill now, she notices.

From the other side of the glass she sees Tiny caterpillar fingers curling around, gripping and Reaching up to wave hello.

The curls have dropped

And those pacific eyes have faded to hazel.

Soon he’ll be pedalling away from her,

Leaving a trail of dust and the memory of his gappy grin.

But for now, she drinks him in,

And measures his growth against the furniture inside:

One millimetre for each week she visits.

Tamiko Dooley is a half-Japanese mother of two, born and raised in England. When there’s no pandemic, she’s hired as a wedding pianist from time to time.

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