To human-interaction toxin
Through a microdosing regimen—
Tiny conversations with strangers,
More than hello, less than a minute,
That’s the way you do it. Tolerance!
At the last stop on her long road up
To where her thoughts could let their hair down,
She encountered two men with a boat
They were easing into the water,
And another old man watching them
From a ledge above the shore, silent.
The two men with the boat were talking, cheerful,
And had a couple of fishing poles.
Leave them alone, she thought. The third man,
The silent one, seemed more interesting,
But the problem with the taciturn
Is they’re often secretly lonely
And, once invited to talk, can’t stop.
She eyed him, and then she recognized
In his weird, half-inward expression,
A loner beyond the final stage
Of social detoxification.
He was hanging up there at the top
Of the long road climbing the mountain
For the same exact reason she was,
But he was beyond the wish to talk.
He just had to listen a little
To wind-blown scraps of conversation,
And that was enough to steady him.
She turned her face to the open lake,
Then nodded when she turned back to him,
Careful not to call out a greeting.
She was rewarded with a curt nod
And the actual ghost of a grin.
My most successful relationship,
She would relate cheerfully, later,
Undisturbed by murmuring voices,
With my favorite fellow human.