Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Ross Gay on Gratitude, Ancestors, Compost & Peace Knee Deep in Terra Firma

Ross Gay is a poet who digs gardens. That is, he really digs soil, gets knee deep in compost, nuzzles insects and aphids. He finds in the muck and unabashed fecund mix--love and the endings and origins of everything we need. Social justice swims in his gardens.

Check out this excerpt from his long poem "Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude," which appears in the beautiful online journal Waxwing.

Thank you the ancestor who loved you
before she knew you
by smuggling seeds into her braid for the long
journey, who loved you
before he knew you by putting
a walnut tree in the ground, who loved you
before she knew you by not slaughtering
the land; thank you
who did not bulldoze the ancient grove
of dates and olives,
who sailed his keys into the ocean
and walked softly home; who did not fire, who did not
plunge the head into the toilet, who said stop,
don’t do that; who lifted some broken
someone up; who volunteered
the way a plant birthed of the reseeding plant
is called a volunteer, like the plum tree
that marched beside the raised bed
in my garden, like the arugula that marched
itself between the blueberries,
nary a bayonette, nary an army, nary a nation,
which usage of the word volunteer
familiar to gardeners the wide world
made my pal shout “Oh!” and dance
and plunge his knuckles
into the lush soil before gobbling two strawberries
and digging a song from his guitar
made of wood from a tree someone planted, thank you
--Ross Gay excerpted from his long poem "Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude"

Photos are from the Bloomington Community Orchard, where Ross volunteers, site of inspiration for much of his poetry

Read Ross Gay's whole poem here

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