Ah, I remember it well. We had stopped in Terre Haute to stretch our legs a bit.
We'd been walking the corridors of a shopping mall, turned the corner into the food court, and there he was.
The elderly gentleman was sitting alone, one elbow resting on the edge of the table while he squinted at the newspaper he had tilted toward the light ... and his coffee sat, growing cold.
We took a turn through the food court and walked on.
When we came by again, he was still there, sitting the same way, still poring over the paper.
I have no idea what he was actually reading, nor what his particular interest might have been, but something told me to find a place to sit and scribble a few words on a scrap of paper that I carry, just in case:
"HELP WANTED - Conversationalist ... "
In due course, a poem was born of that experience, that chance observation, those three words I had scribbled.
Having grown old,
I haunt the ads,
hoping to find one
that might say:
Help Wanted -
Witty, yet reserved.
Willing to listen.
No travel required.
Age no barrier.
(originally published in Midwest Poetry Review)
Today's word: conversationalist