Entry - MAG Poetry Prize 2010

Small Town Girl

by Lucy Alexander

I was a market-town girl of the seventies.
The tree-lined avenues all led down
to a market-square of shops and punks and cops.
Up and down we walked to town, slipping into shit-filled snickets,
my siblings, my friends and me.
I was a small-town girl – Saturdays shopping, weekdays at school -
no big adventures and never that cool.
A small-time girl –drifting and dawdling, staring out of my window -
the man opposite wears dresses, Mrs Brown’s a depressive.
Sometimes you’re too old to choose.
And small-town roads still dapple my mind –
with their pollarded planes and scented limes
and the so-called keys of the sycamore trees
and the long walk to school along the black tarmac
which stuck to our sandals in summer.
The small-town market was dull and the clothes were all nylon:
no olives and breads from ‘the continent’ for sale.
But the shops lured me in, their promised lands made from
tiny figures, miniature tea-sets, carved wooden cradles.
When I look now from my grander position, I see
the small-town girl staring back at me,
walking up and down and up and down, ‘into town’,
then walking away to set herself free.

Added: 30.04.2010

Judges' comments on this poem


Full of atmosphere, and it's a pleasure to to find one poet ou of a dozen who is not afraid of rhyme.


liked the 'small town roads still dapple my mind'. reminded me a lot of my childhood, which may well be the reason this resonated for me.


Nice evocation of the seventies and remembered youth.


My favourite part is the observation about the man opposite & Mrs Brown: "Sometimes you're too old to choose."