A Poem for a Thursday #98

Photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash

 Joy Harjo is the incumbent United States Poet Laureate. She is the first Native American to hold this position and is from the Muscogee Nation. She is a poet, musician, playwright, and author. She says of her writing process "I no longer see the poem as an ending point, perhaps more the end of a journey, an often long journey that can begin years earlier, say with the blur of the memory of the sun on someone's cheek, a certain smell, an ache, and will culminate years later in a poem, sifted through a point, a lake in my heart through which language must come."

The world begins at a kitchen table. No matter

   what we must eat to live.

The gifts of earth are brought and prepared, set

   on the table. So it has been since creation,

   and it will go on.

We chase chickens or dogs away from it. Babies

   teethe at the corners. They scrape their knees

   under it.

It is here that children are given instructions on 

   what it means to be human, We make men

   at it, we make women.

At this table we gossip, recall enemies and the

   ghosts of lovers.

Our dreams drink coffee with us as they put

   their arms around our children. They laugh

   with us at our poor falling-down selves and

   as we put ourselves back together once again

   at the table.

This table has been a house in the rain, an

   umbrella in the sun.

Wars have begun and ended at this table. It is a 

   place to hide in the shadow of terror. A place

   to celebrate the terrible victory.

We have given birth on this table, and have

   prepared our parents for burial here.

At this table we sing with joy, with sorrow. We 

   pray of suffering and remorse. We give


Perhaps the world will end at the kitchen table,

   while we are laughing and crying, eating of

   the last sweet bite.

Perhaps the World Ends Here

Joy Harjo

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