Give every man thine ear, but few thy voice.

This was a matter of policy for me for many years – listening, being my
Particular habit, or superpower, or
Special skill, or Achilles heel.
And giving every man mine ear
Sometimes meant sitting and sitting and
Nodding and smiling and taking on a lot
That wasn’t mine.
I had a boyfriend once
Who couldn’t stop talking.
I listened, because that is what I do
But once, I stopped saying “mmmhhmm” and “yes”
Stopped nodding my head
Stopped all those cues that let a person know
You are receiving them. I also got out my watch and timed
How long he could go without my saying
A single word?
It was hard for me
The temptation to say “yeah” or
Ask a question in response to what I’d heard was great
But I just watched the minute hand tick by instead
Watched until half an hour had passed when
He finally said
“How are you?”


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