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Overheard


It's a beautiful day
the small man said from behind me
and I could tell he had a slight limp
from the rasp of his boot against the sidewalk
and I was slow to look at him
because I've learned to close my ears
against the voices of passersby, which is easier than closing
them to my own mind,
and although he said it I did not hear it
until he said it a second or third time
but he did, he said It's a beautiful day and something
in the way he pointed to the sun unfolding
between two oaks overhanging a basketball court
on 10th Street made me, too
catch hold of that light, opening my hands
to the dream of the soon blooming
and never did he say forget the crick in your neck
nor your bloody dreams; he did not say forget
the multiple shades of your mother's heartbreak,
nor the father in your city
kneeling over his bloody child,
nor the five species of bird this second become memory,
no, he said only, It's a beautiful day,
this tiny man
limping past me
with upturned palms
shaking his head
in disbelief.


Ross Gay

Bringing the Shovel Down
University of Pittsburgh Press


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