Eva, John Thomas White came to me in a dream
Last night and I wanted to contact you
To say that though for you and me he has been dead
Far too many years and died too young,
He was lively and lovely in the dream.
Of course, this proves nothing; he still is not
More available to us than that, so far as I know.
For people who missed becoming his friend,
Sharing the dream will mean even less.
And – you know this to be true – who is harder to describe
Than our John? Enigmatic but not obscure, he once bemused
My mind by questioning me – I will never forget –
With the words “What is a zoo?,”
To which I could only laugh and reply,
“Why do you ask me that? We both know what
It is: a place where folks come to view the animals.
What in the world do you want me to say?”
Eva, I am going to stop soon. Nothing I can contrive
Can bring our companion back in even as much reality
As I experienced in the dream. Telling others
About dreams we have had, though we want so to do it,
Is second-hand stuff at best. I can only relate this:
John was sitting on a bus. The seat next to him was empty.
He looked up as I came toward him down the aisle
And motioned me to take it. He was smiling, of course.
Then we went on a journey which was comic and active
And never for one moment boring, and though
We were thwarted in what we wanted to do
And where we wanted to go, it did not matter
Because everything was wonderful. Waking up
With an urgent memory of those sweet vital moments,
I wanted to tell you before they faded, though I believe
Not even carefully chosen words could convoy John Thomas White –
Ridiculous name for one so little like anyone else – near enough
For you to have been with John and me in our cinematic minutes.
Jonathan Bracker is editor of Bright Cages: Selected Poems of Christopher Morley (University of Pennsylvania Press: 1965; reissued 2018); co-author with Mark I. Wallach of Christopher Morley (Twayne: 1976); and editor of A Little Patch of Shepherd’s Thyme: Prose Passages Of Thomas Hardy Arranged As Verse (Moving Finger Press: 2013).