“Perhaps the World Ends Here” from The Woman Who Fell From the Sky by Joy Harjo. Copyright © 1994 by Joy Harjo. Used by permission of W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., http://www.wwnorton.com. Ms. Harjo’s book is available at here.
The world begins at a kitchen table. No matter what, we must eat
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
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.