Found bus pass

The old style. The type I’d not seen since my own aged relatives had used them.
Nothing special, faint tobacco smell, clear plastic
With the same logo found on all the bus stops in the area
- absurdly futuristic, “keeping Merseyside on the move” it said
Well, not this owner, not just now anyway.

I looked inside and met the stare of age, seventy plus she must have been,
with a late 1940s hair style – pulled back and up
the type used to sway GI Joes perhaps, they like the pass, now missing.
Blue grey eyes looked back – set under milky white rings
like those my father ended up with – eyes valid in 6 zones anytime except morning rush hour.

The tobacco smell was stronger when I opened it,
Rose (her name) must like a roll up. The photo too
Not some booth job from the post office, but a shot inside a busy pub, or a works club.
Drinks glasses on the tables, real people in the background. A lipstick smile,
And looking closer this time, eye liner framing that aged stare.

I closed the cover on Rose, I felt like a party gatecrasher.
The spiel on the back of the pass gave some conditions of use for the
“elderly persons travel pass” – I felt my own frustration at the contempt of young for old.
Would Rose just laugh at this? Would she have worried like me over my pension, my house,
My modern concern at looking after my health?

Sealing the pass into an envelope, without even a note,
I quickly calculated the years it would take me to reach Rose. At least thirty.
Twenty of those tied to my desk too. After a lifetime of looking towards middle age as
Somewhere to live, has seeing Rose now revealed another horizon?
Is this how it’s always going to be?

(January 2002)