Perhaps the World Ends Here
Joy Harjo (1951--)
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 and dogs away from it. Babies
teethe at the corners. They scrape their
knees under it.
It is here that chickens 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. The laugh
with us at our poor falling-down selves and as
we put ourselves back together once again at
This table has been a house in the rain, an
umbrella in the sun.
We have begun and ended at the 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.
Joy Harjo was appointed the new United States poet laureate
in 2019. Born in Tusa Oklahoma in 1951. She is a member of the
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