Thursday, November 28, 2019

Perhaps the World Ends Here by Joy Harjo

When I read that the inspiration for Melanie Heuiser Hill's picture book Around the Table That Grandad Built was a poem by Joy Harjo, our national Poet Laureate and the first Native American to hold that position, I naturally pulled out my copy of The Woman Who Fell From the Sky and reread "Perhaps the World Ends Here." I'd like to share it today now that the holiday season has officially begun, and with it all the hustle and bustle it brings. Sometimes it's good to stop and remember that it is the family, friends, and neighbors, all the people we share our joys and sorrows with who are really important. And a lot of that sharing is done right at a kitchen table, as both picture book and poem gently remind us. 

Perhaps the World Ends Here by Joy Harjo

The world begins at a kitchen table. No matter what, we must eat to live.
The gifts of earth are bought 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.
Out 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. which we are laughing and cryings, eating of the last sweet bite.

A big Thanks to Bridget of Wee Words for Wee Ones for hosting today's Poetry Friday roundup. Be sure to visit her to find more wonderful poems to enjoy.


  1. Beautiful poem. Thank you for sharing it today. Those kitchen tables hold so many memories.

  2. I love this poem, Alex, shared it with my brother, especially, because of our own memories of a table long ago. I didn't know about the connection with this picture book. Thanks!

  3. Thanks so much for this beautiful poem. I really need to read more Joy Harjo!

  4. I love this poem; it was one of the first I shared when I started blogging back in 2007. I also love Melanie's new book and was happy to hear Harjo's poem inspired it.

  5. This really resonates with me on the day after the true holiday of gluttony, Black Friday. The things (and people) that really matter can be found at the heart of our homes, which is usually the kitchen table.

  6. Love this poem and I had not read it before. Thanks for sharing it.

  7. Excellent poem and reminder, Alex! You've inspired me to look up more of Harjo's poetry. Thank you!

  8. Oh, if kitchen tables could talk. Imagine the stories they would tell.


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