Seeing Johnby Todd Colby
Whenever John invited me to his apartment to visit him and his husband, David Kermani, I always managed to find myself standing out in front of their apartment building on 22nd Street with at least 15 minutes to burn before the time I was supposed to arrive. I just took it for granted that whenever I’d visit John, I’d arrive early enough to take a walk around his block a few times, until it was time to go inside. While wandering up 9th Avenue, then east on 23rd Street, back down 8th Avenue and west on 22nd Street again, I’d think about John walking around the same block. I'd imagine what he might have noticed or been amused by. Surely John had made note of the hideous blue of that Citibank awning. Perhaps he too glimpsed that London Plane tree that looked a little scraggly. I wondered how many times John had sat in one of the booths in the Rail Diner and gazed out at the traffic and people on 9th Avenue. Everything I saw made me wonder, “What would John notice?” While waiting to go up to see him I'd count the windows up to his floor and imagine him looking out over the Hudson River to New Jersey. I'd browse through a deli on 9th Avenue and try to come up with ideas for healthy snacks to bring, even though John would say there is absolutely no point in healthy snacks; unhealthy snacks are always better. Tate’s Cookies are healthy, right? I will miss David’s warm greetings as he opened the door and led me in to the living room to see John, sitting in his chair facing west. He’d turn to greet me with his electric smile, his blue eyes ablaze, “Well hello, Todd, so nice to see you!” So would begin some of my fondest memories of being a poet: sitting and talking with my friend, John. Now when I walk by his building I feel a sweet presence, a flutter, and then the deep thud of the awareness that he's physically gone. Dear sweet John.
TODD COLBY is the author of six books of poetry, most recently Splash State (The Song Cave, 2014) and Flushing Meadows (Scary Topiary Press, 2012). A collection of his visual art, Time for History, was published in 2017.