Natasha Trethewey

7. Benediction

I thought that when I saw my brother
walking through the gates of the prison,
he would look like a man entering

his life. And he did. He carried
a small bag, holding it away from his body
as if he would not touch it, or

that it weighed almost nothing.
The clothes he wore seemed to belong
to someone else, like hand-me-downs

given a child who will one day
grow into them. Behind him, at the fence,
the inmates were waving, someone saying

All right now. And then,
my brother was walking toward us,
a few awkward steps, at first, until

he got it—how to hold up the too-big pants
with one hand, and in the other
carry everything else he had.