Memoir Mixtapes Vol.1 / Track 10

A Poem in Two Parts by Sarah Little


small-town girl

a girl clicks new buttons into place
in the discman, taps it a couple of times. makes
sure they’re in properly and
finds a CD. she handles it
carefully, as though frail:
picks it up at the edges and slides it
down her pinky finger.
flips it over, clicks it onto the mechanism.

the quality of playback is tinny,
the headphones the thin kind which will
only wear out after further use.
she tries to mimic the beat
and fails.

the lyrics spill out, and she
unravels them
with all the care of a Christmas

small-town girl listens
intently, waits for clarity.
it comes in the shape of
another small-town girl,
telling her about dreams and imagination.

small-town girl listens
to vague silhouettes outlines
of cityscapes and wonders
what’s so great about the city.

(she meets the city
when she’s still old enough to be
soon, she understands)

her friend pops on the cd
and she waits for the song to come through.
she listens, and thinks of the slice
of city she met.

thinks of skyscrapers and mazes you could
get lost in. thinks of careful danger, risk-taking,
and draws a blank imagining it.

she listens again to the lyrics,
wonder and excitement and ambition bleeding
through the chorus, melting
into energy.

she wonders if she is supposed to
imagine the same.

city, take two

small-town girl shuffles off
to the city. she lives here now,
and one suburb looks big enough to fit
the small town she came from.

population x times y, she writes.
no, that’s not right. y divides by x
equals. she reads the number, it’s too big to
wrap her mind around.
so she doesn’t try.

the city has its own bubbles
and her residential area becomes
hers. she rarely ventures outside
of the area. this tiny suburb-town
shrinks the city for her,
becomes a micro-town in a city.

the music is played on the radio here
sometimes. she doesn’t have to wear out
batteries on her discman.
anyway, the headphones are
starting to break apart. the foam on one
earpiece is tearing away.

so she listens to a small-town girl
singing about a small-town, but
now it’s a big city.
every scale is bigger.
she just doesn’t realize it yet.

small-town girl goes to university
a few years after moving.
she extends her reach around the city,
knows how to get from a to b, but also from
b to e. e to c.
she draws lines on a map,
circles points of interest.

university is its own
major scale to her: she fits the small-town population
into the university, pictures a few thousand townspeople
packing into a lecture hall.

in her time out of classes, she explores:
tall buildings, dizzyingly high – she
cranes her neck, wonders if this is what
vertigo feels like.
tries to count the number of floors
by the lines of windows.

half the buildings
have revolving doors.

she stands on the highest floor
of one of them, surveys the world
below her feet.

this world is home now
and she is the better for it.

About the Author:

Sarah Little is a poet-storyteller. When she isn’t conjuring new tales or trying to keep pace with her to-create list she blogs, knits, and sometimes goes looking for shenanigans. Her work has appeared in Cold Coffee Stand, Twisted Sister, and Halo Literary Magazine, among others. Her first poetry chapbook, Tiny Moments, was released in April 2017. She can be found on Twitter, @tuckedinacorner or blogging at

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