The Seven Stages of Decrepitude

1
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.

2
Men, you notice, have become
more chivalrous than they used to be.

3
You offer your seat to a man on crutches
but he declines.

4
You offer your seat to an ancient Japanese,
she accepts. Three men jump up
to give you theirs.

5
Young women offer you their seats,
you accept.

6
Young and not so young women rise
elbow their way down the crowded bus,
calling, pointing to their seats.

7
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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