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He Couldn’t Breathe

Eric Gardner Died of a Police Chokehold in 2014

Eric Gardner Died of a Police Chokehold in 2014

One could complain forever about brutality of life in America, especially when one doesn’t have white skin. Instead, I wanted to present this little poem by Ross Gay, a teacher and gardener living in Bloomington, Indiana. I would rather celebrate Eric Garner’s life, as this poem does. The title is the same as the first line: “A Small Needful Fact.”

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.

Garner’s widow, Esaw, pictured above with a beautiful smile, said to the press, “My husband was not a violent man. We don’’t want violence connected to his name.”

This poem was reprinted by Truthdig.Com, for which I thank them.