Poetry Sunday: Perhaps the World Ends Here by Joy Harjo

Joy Harjo is currently serving her second term as the country's poet laureate. She is the first Native American to be poet laureate. She is a member of the Muscogee Nation. In this poem, she gives us an appreciation of the humble kitchen table. It serves so many functions in our lives and perhaps the world even begins and ends there.

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 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.


  1. The world may indeed have ended at the kitchen table for people caught in the terrible floods of western Canada.

  2. Harjo's poem provides a reminder that the center of a home is often where we sit for meals. Such a lovely, down-to-earth celebration of the kitchen table!

    1. Her point is well-taken. Where we all gather together to eat is often the center of our lives. That was especially brought home by our Thanksgiving meal this week.

  3. i'm not so sure it's poetry, but it's true nevertheless...

  4. The kitchen table is the center of many lives. Nowadays, remote workers sometimes do their work on the kitchen table. Students do their homework there. Families celebrate, or watch the evening news as they eat. A lot of truth in this work.

  5. Gives one a whole new appreciation for the kitchen table! What a great poem. :)

  6. Love this poem and quite an appropriate one to read due to the recent Thanksgiving holiday!

  7. We end where we began... I like the idea of that.

  8. My world has always centered around our kitchen table.

    Beautiful poem.


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