Happy Birthday, Nikki - Poem by Max Reif
I liked the patches
on the back of your jeans,
and almost before I knew it,
we were together.
That was 1971.
November 10 still never passes
without my remembering it's your birthday
even though at the time
I thought I might be just in it for the lust
that was driving me crazy;
even though I was on anti-depressants;
even though walking to the bank
in South Bend in the winter sun
the morning after our first night,
I realized I had no idea how to live.
I have the picture of you
and your 2 year-old cherub,
lovely madonna and child,
he's almost middle-aged now.
Gifts you gave me still endure,
even material ones,
the Judy Collins Songbook
and the antique candle-holder Mom has.
Saw you in the early '90s
driving through there,
we met for breakfast,
you looked great.
I wrote you afterward,
you never replied,
but at least you knew how I felt.
That night in San Mateo
when I made you get out
to catch your plane,
of course I didn't want to do it.
Took me a year and a half
to come out of the depression
after stopping the pills
because on them I felt
I couldn't really be there for you.
If I'd been a lot more myself,
who knows? But every year
like clockwork, November 10,
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