In a dream this morning, I was one-poem-in to a poetry reading. Large, well-lit room, an audience of about forty. It was a relaxed scene—I knew some of the people; many of them had heard me read before.
I was giving the first poem a little space when someone about half-way back on the right raised his hand. I nodded and he said “That poem only adds clarity to a narrow slice of existence. I want the poem that explains it all.”
Without missing a beat I said “I can give you that poem in one word.” The one word poem that explains it all had just come to me. Go figure.
I met the man’s eyes, and just as I was about to pronounce the one word, a series of unrelated interruptions broke through the room—a door opened admitting four or five people in animated conversation, a PA system somewhere crackled to life in the middle of an announcement—it was as if a tempest blew through the room, as if papers were flying everywhere. The audience looked around, distracted, the moment seemed broken.
But the man and I were still holding the gaze, and I said the word. We both smiled. No one but he and I heard it. The tempest blew itself out and everything settled. I cleared my throat, shuffled pages, and went on with the reading. No one else seemed to notice.
I remember the word that was for me and him the necessary explanation at that moment. Can you guess it?
Art and Practice
Don Freas is an artist, writer, and poet in Olympia, Washington.