The Seven Stages of Decrepitude

You’re one of the unthinking fit
sprinting for the bus (though consciously
not tripping). Fine to offer your seat
to the elderly, stand all the way.

Men, you notice, have become
more chivalrous than they used to be.

You offer your seat to a man on crutches
but he declines.

You offer your seat to an ancient Japanese,
she accepts. Three men jump up
to give you theirs.

Young women offer you their seats,
you accept.

Young and not so young women rise
elbow their way down the crowded bus,
calling, pointing to their seats.

Arriving at the stop you’re seized
and lifted by strong arms onto the bus
installed in a seat despite your protests
(your voice comes out no louder than a shrew’s)
and you know it’s kind, and will make them
feel good about themselves, only

it’s not your bus.

from Countdown (Bloodaxe, 2011), Carole Satyamurti 2011, used by permission of the author and the publisher

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