‘A Small Needful Fact’ – a poem by Ross Gay

In such turbulent times, like ours, poetry-reading and writing is perhaps one of the best tools to articulate powerful emotional experiences. I came across this poem by Ross Gay* about Eric Garner and it moved me deeply as it evokes so gently and yet powerfully the visceral interdependence of human beings. On July 17, 2014, Eric Garner died in the New York City borough of Staten Island after Daniel Pantaleo; a New York City Police Department (NYPD) officer, put him in a chokehold while arresting him (despite chokeholds being banned in NYPD since 1993). Black lives matter indeed and we are all implicated in each other’s lives, we are all deeply connected through being alive together.

A Small Needful Fact

Is that Eric Garner worked
for some time for the Parks and Rec.
Horticultural Department, which means,
perhaps, that with his very large hands,
perhaps, in all likelihood,
he put gently into the earth
some plants which, most likely,
some of them, in all likelihood,
continue to grow, continue
to do what such plants do, like house
and feed small and necessary creatures,
like being pleasant to touch and smell,
like converting sunlight
into food, like making it easier
for us to breathe.

*Ross Gay is the author of Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2015), winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Kingsley Tufts Award.

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