Kevin Young - Charity

So many socks.

After the pair
the undertaker asks for
(I picture them black

beneath the fold
in your open casket,
your toes still cold)

what else to do.
Body bags
of old suits, shirts

still pressed, long
johns, the unworn,
unwashed wreckage

of your closet, too many
coats to keep, though I will save
so many. How can I

give away the last
of your scent? And still,
father, you have errands,

errant dry cleaning to pick up —
yellow tags whose ghostly
carbon tells a story

where to look. One
place closed
for good, the tag old.

One place none
of your clothes,
just stares as if no one

ever dies, as if you
are naked somewhere
& I suppose you are.

Nothing here.
The last place knows exactly
what I mean, brings me shirts

hanging like a head.
Starched collars
your beard had worn.

One man saying sorry, older lady
in the back saying how funny
you were, how you joked

with her weekly. Sorry
& a fellow black man hands
your clothes back for free,

don't worry. I've learned death
has few kindnesses left.
Such is charity — so rare

& so rarely free —
that on the way back
to your emptying house

I weep. Then drive
everything, swaying,
straight to Goodwill —

open late — to live on
another body
& day.