The world begins at a kitchen table

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(poetry diary 17) I wonder whether everyone can easily picture the kitchen table that they grew up around.  I can see ours pretty easily–brown, with a darker brown border, made out of wood and formica,  with metal legs.  I remember there being thin crevices around the side and middle, and that a fascinating amount of crumbs would build up there.  We’d eat on the table, and play Hearts with my grandparents, and I’d do homework and my mother would pay bills there too.

When I think of these things and of the family dinners that my sister-in-law prepares each week, as she did last night, around a wonderfully long wooden one at my father-in-law’s house,  I think of Joy Harjo’s poem “Perhaps the World Ends Here.”

It begins

The world begins at a kitchen table. No matter what, we must eat to live.

and goes on to say, among other things,

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.

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