Connections. | Michi (Path). by Tamiko Dooley

And the boys are naming metro stations
Ochiai, Kanda, Shibuya
You can learn the game by watching us play it, they smile
The names keep on coming, turning eastbound
Ginza line crossing the Chiyoda line
The colours spin in my mind
I try to join, visualise the map
Connecting to the JR
Until you realise
Shinjuku, Ueno, Nakano
It’s not a transport game of strategy and memory
Yotsuya, Meguro
Nor something you can join
Shimbashi, Aoyama-itchome
In fact, the only thing they’re playing
Sumiyoshi, Ebisu
is you.

Michi (Path).
We’re almost walking distance now
You would say, cocking your head
To get a view of the blocked road ahead

You’d hear my breathing speed up
As my piano lesson loomed, eyes darting to the
Glowing analogue on the dashboard

Weekly lessons turned into college drop-offs
You helped me move into my flat in Yokohama
I’d start driving you to your appointments

Still, if there was a jam on the Shuto Expressway
Even if there was no route to walk, we’d turn and smile:
We’re almost walking distance now

Sometimes when the fumes overwhelm me
No turnings off the one-way street
Can’t see the way forward

I close my eyes
Place my hands before me and breathe:
We’re almost walking distance now

Tamiko read Latin and French at New College, Oxford. She was the winner of the BBC Radio 3 carol competition 2021. Her debut chapbook "SHIMA (Islands)", published by Alien Buddha Press, is available on Amazon. She has two chapbooks due for publication in 2023 with Broken Sleep Books and Cephalo Press.