Tamiko Dooley

First Bite

I watched you gently unwrap the paper and bite the end of your cone

Chocolate-heavy, wafer tip

You tilted your head back and sucked through the matcha ice-cream

“It tastes sweeter from the other end,” you smiled, adjusting your sunglasses

And my seventeen-year-old lilac-painted toes

Squirmed and dug deeper into the tide-soaked sand

As waves crashed inside me and against Odaiba shore


I thought you looked funny before
She said, cocking her head to one side,
But now that you wear glasses
You look even funnier

The lollipop in her mouth
Moved to the other cheek
To give one side relief from the sugar.

Facts stated without irony, guilt or doubt.

Neither smiling nor frowning
She skipped off to hold her aunt’s hand.

The crowds pressed in on us
At Tokyo Disneyland
We could hardly move for people
Row after row of black hair and long socks
And pleated skirts, taken for a day trip

And me, a tall nine year old, in jeans and
Chestnut locks and frames I’d spent hours
Agonizing over at the optician’s

had never




About the Author

Tamiko Dooley read Latin and French at New College, Oxford. She has two poetry pamphlets due for publication in 2023 with Broken Sleep Books and Cephalo Press. She was the winner of the 2021 BBC Radio 3 carol competition.