Thoughtful Thursday: A Small Needful Fact by Ross Gay

Thoughtful Thursdays are back! To the newcomers, on Thursdays GCP offers a poem, a song, a sampling of African American created or inspired culture to uplift your day, and share with your sons. Today’s offering comes courtesy of the wonderful journalist Michele Norris, who tweeted this poem out this morning. Given the beauty of the poem, and the times we live in, we just had to share it. “A Small Needful Fact”, by Ross Gay, focuses on an aspect of Eric Garner’s life not otherwise noted in the coverage of his death at the hands of NYC police.

Born in Youngstown, Ohio, Gay is the author of Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2015), winner of the Kingsley Tufts Award and a finalist for the National Book Award and the National Books Critics Circle Award; Bringing the Shovel Down (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2011); and Against Which (Cavankerry Press, 2006). He earned a BA from Lafayette College, an MFA in Poetry from Sarah Lawrence College, and a PhD in English from Temple University. He teaches at Indiana University. Speaking about this poem during a PBS Newshour, Gay said, “What that poem, I think, is trying to do is to say, there’s this beautiful life, which is both the sorrow and the thing that needs to be loved”.

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

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