Personal, Social and Health Education class
by Tamiko Dooley
When you close that door, Matron tells me –
a young sixteen, unsure yet
how to raise my eyes slowly to elicit a smile
eyes uncircled by charcoal
lips unswiped by gloss
arm firmly clamped to my side when the teacher asks a question –
When you choose to close that door
You’re responsible for whatever happens behind it.
I nod without understanding, but
In a year or two I would retort:
Tell that to the girl who wants to pick one daisy, not make a chain
Take one sip of milkshake to check it’s chocolate, and leave the rest
She’ll close that door / just to feel / just for a taste
If you provide the temptation, you suffer the consequences,
Matron would have replied.
The bell rings, and in the yard blackbirds in suits
Perch on benches to score us as we pass:
Premiership, First division, Second division, Vauxhall Conference.
I hear pounding on doors
A crescendo of angry fists thundering
A roar that refuses to be silenced.
Tamiko is a half-Japanese mother of two. She read Latin and French at New College, Oxford. When there’s no pandemic, she’s hired as a wedding pianist from time to time.