At tonight’s session we welcomed familiar faces from around the US — Pennsylvania, Indiana, Iowa, and more — and also from India, to read the poem “Perhaps the World Ends Here,” by Poet Laureate of the United States Joy Harjo, posted below.
The poem invited a range of readings and responses, as participants reflected on the literal and metaphorical representation of the kitchen table. One person referred to the way the poem was bracketed — like life — by a beginning and an ending; another wondered why the ending was the focus, reflected in the poet’s choice of title. Importantly, one participant noted the privilege embedded in the very notion of home represented by the table image. The diversity of responses pointed itself to the value of narrative medicine, in its invitation to engage with the experiences and interpretations of others.
As we responded in writing to the prompt, “At this table…” this idea was reflected again in participants’ shared writing, which — through that one powerful image — opened into a world of memories, dreams, and connections.
Participants are warmly encouraged to share what you wrote below (“Leave a Reply”), to keep the conversation going here, bearing in mind that the blog of course is a public space where confidentiality is not assured.
Please join us for our next session Sunday, May 17th at 2pm EDT, with more times listed on our Live Virtual Group Sessions page.
We look forward to seeing you again soon!
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.
“Perhaps the World Ends Here” from The Woman Who Fell From the Sky by Joy Harjo. Copyright © 1994 by Joy Harjo.