Skip to main content
By Ross Gay

—after Gwendolyn Brooks

No matter the pull toward brink. No

matter the florid, deep sleep awaits.

There is a time for everything. Look,

just this morning a vulture

nodded his red, grizzled head at me,

and I looked at him, admiring

the sickle of his beak.

Then the wind kicked up, and,

after arranging that good suit of feathers

he up and took off.

Just like that. And to boot,

there are, on this planet alone, something like two

million naturally occurring sweet things,

some with names so generous as to kick

the steel from my knees: agave, persimmon,

stick ball, the purple okra I bought for two bucks

at the market. Think of that. The long night,

the skeleton in the mirror, the man behind me

on the bus taking notes, yeah, yeah.

But look; my niece is running through a field

calling my name. My neighbor sings like an angel

and at the end of my block is a basketball court.

I remember. My color’s green. I’m spring.


      —for Walter Aikens

Ross Gay, "Sorrow Is Not My Name" from Bringing the Shovel Down.  Copyright © 2011 by Ross Gay. All rights are controlled by the University of Pittsburgh Press, Pittsburgh, PA 15260. Used by permission of University of Pittsburgh Press.

Source: Bringing the Shovel Down (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2011)

  • Living

Poet Bio

Ross Gay
Ross Gay was born in Youngstown, Ohio. Gay is an editor with the chapbook presses Q Avenue and Ledge Mule Press and is a founding editor, with Karissa Chen and Patrick Rosal, of the online sports magazine Some Call it Ballin.' 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. See More By This Poet

More By This Poet

More Poems about Living

Browse poems about Living Get a random poem