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?