Ross Gay’s unforgettable poem about Eric Garner–who was choked to death by an NYPD officer last July–reads like a memorial wreath, delicately pieced together with pain and sprouts of hope.

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, Ind. His book, “Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude,” is available from University of Pittsburgh Press.

*** Used with permission. This piece does not form part of our Truthdig original poetry series, as it’s already been published on another site. For more information on how to submit a poem to Truthdig, click here.

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