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A Small Needful Fact by Ross Gay


reposted with permission from Split This Rock Poem of the Week.

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 a gardener and teacher living in Bloomington, Indiana. He is the author of the collections Against Which, Bringing the Shovel Down, and most recently The Catalogue of Unabashed Gratitude (Pitt Poetry Series, 2015). His poems have appeared in American Poetry Review, Atlanta Review, Harvard Review, Columbia: A Journal of Poetry and Art, and Margie: The American Journal of Poetry, among other places.


About Split This Rock:

cultivates, teaches, and celebrates poetry that bears witness to injustice and provokes social change. It calls poets to a greater role in public life and fosters a national network of socially engaged poets. Building the audience for poetry of provocation and witness from our home in the nation’s capital, we celebrate poetic diversity and the transformative power of the imagination.

Split This Rock explores and celebrates the many ways that poetry can act as an agent for change: reaching across differences, considering personal and social responsibility, asserting the centrality of the right to free speech, bearing witness to the diversity and complexity of human experience through language, imagining a better world.

Split This Rock is dedicated to revitalizing poetry as a living, breathing art form with profound relevance in our daily lives and struggles. Our programs integrate poetry of provocation and witness into movements for social justice and support the poets of all ages who write and perform this vital work.

The name "Split This Rock" is pulled from a line in “Big Buddy,” a poem from Langston Hughes.

Don’t you hear this hammer ring?
I’m gonna split this rock
And split it wide!
When I split this rock,
Stand by my side.


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