The kitchen table.


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 thanks.

Perhaps the world will end at the kitchen table, while we are laughing and crying, eating of the last sweet bite.

-Joy Harjo

Carl Larsson

7 thoughts on “The kitchen table.

  1. We’ve had our table well over 40 years. It’s solid maple and has a few dings where someone dropped a heavy dish no doubt. All our family meals were eaten around it. Countless board games played. Numberless conversations.
    Our dreams drink coffee with us as they put their arms around our children. Yes.


  2. I know I’ve heard this before, probably on the Daily Poem podcast (which seems to have disappeared for a while). It’s so true of everyone’s home, their own kitchens.


  3. I recently read Harjo’s memoir, “Poet Warrior,” which blends her poetry and her memories. She did not have an easy childhood, but she seems to have strong relationships with family and friends. This is one of my favorite of her poems.


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