by Alexander Motyl

I was depositing
bottles and cans
in the can
marked bottles and cans
and the paper
in the can
marked paper,
when the handyman,
who lives in the Bronx
and is Puerto Rican,
threw a big wrench
in my biweekly routine:
“I’m qui’in’.”
Sunday would be his last day.
He had a union pension
and Social Security,
and he was sixty-two.
“How o’ a’ you?”
When I said fifty-seven,
Jose grinned.
“I tho’ you wa’ much old’—
may’ si’ty-eigh’.”
I said, “Congratulations, Jose,
good for you,
I’m glad you’re finally doing
what you want to do.”
Then I went back to my apartment
and looked into a mirror,
just to make sure.

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