Como uña y carne

Roy is eighty years old and from Honduras.
He has lived in the same Brooklyn brownstone for fifty years.
“I can’t move,” he says. “This was where I lived with my wife.
I turn in bed and she’s not there. But this is where she used to be.”
He points to a wrapped bouquet of flowers on the stoop.
His Jeep Cherokee with two-tone leather seats is spotless,
Parked on the curb, shining in crocodile green.
“I visit her grave every week, never once missed a Friday.”
I see him sweeping his bluestone sidewalk in the fall.
In winter, we shovel the same snow.
He just came back from Honduras after burying his sister.
“I’m the youngest of five. My mother lived to be a hundred.
My sister was two years older than me.”
He points to the place on his index finger
Where the nail meets the flesh, saying,
“We were como uña y carne.”
We run into each other on summer mornings
He is on his way to the candy store for his morning paper
I’m on my way to the library where I write
In a quiet room, the rhythm of the graphite
On the surface of the paper
Almost like another person’s breath.

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