Thanks, Giving

In honor of a day that's come to be known as "Thanksgiving". The holiday's origins are shady, but we've made it a day of thanks.


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.

c Joy Harjo from The Woman Who Fell From the Sky, W.W. Norton 1994


riverlight said...

Thank you for your sweet words, and for your wisdom.

SusanGabriel said...

I love this poem. I read it every year at Thanksgiving. Our large dining room table belonged to my mate's Polish grandmother and has a burn mark left by her iron when she stepped away and left it maybe 100 years ago. We make up stories about why she stepped away: a knock on the door, a hurt child, a tall, dark stranger?

Thank you for your poetry, Joy. It is beautiful and a gift and it helps us remember our own stories.

All the best,
Susan Gabriel
author of The Secret Sense of Wildflower (a story of another grandmother, which received a starred review by Kirkus Reviews)