How to Really Listen

I was once given the advice when listening to others speak (men especially), to actually count to thirty when there is a space between thoughts and if given space to reflect, they will share with more and more depth. 

How to Really Listen

Sure some conversations
are fencing matches,
tongues like swords, razor wits,
and others are a dissertation
with panel and defense.

But there are many more,
my illness,
the first time I had sex,
when I was a kid...

Let the speaker's words swell,
dissolving time and tension.
Consider their vocal chords,
pulleys to ancestors and the ancient.
Lungs, when loved, can be accordions,
stretched with poignant song.

Wait a precious ten seconds,
(you need to actually count to ten)
with each heartbeat
bring your breath
to your own sternum,
then sacrum,
to foot soles.
In concert
with your pause,
you will help them dip again
in the well of distant
and divine memory.

Pull out a chair
for the upwelling of hurt,
only once spoken
can it alchemize to hope.
Murmur sweet encouragements
as if in a pew at a gospel church.

Then count to twenty.
Know there will be time for you,
that the great ledger always balances.
Your offering will be your receiving,
in their story,
your closed door
flung open.