Thanksgiving for me is all about gathering around a table with family and friends, enjoying food prepared with love. The best of those times keep us sitting at the table, long after plates are empty, glasses are drained, and candles are flickering with laughter, murmurings, and sometimes, tears. I’m grateful these moments occur more than just once a year.
My friend Bruce Botts, owner of Vita’s Wildly Delicious, an iconic Lopez Island eatery, knows about the importance of the table. His food preparation and hosting at Vita’s (as well as frequent catered events) call many of us to gather.
In his newsletter, Bruce often turns to poets to express what his work is about. One tradition he follows at Thanksgiving is to share this exquisite poem by Joy Harjo. She is an internationally renowned performer and writer of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation and was named the 23rd Poet Laureate of the United States in 2019. As we close the month of November, I’m passing Ms. Harjo’s poem (by way of Bruce) along to you.
Perhaps the World Ends Here – Joy Harjo
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.