I have been riddled with anger and feelings of hopelessness this week in the wake of the George Zimmerman verdict. The more I’ve researched and learned about how the system has brought us to this point, the worse it has gotten. The more sociopathic rages I’ve read, the worst it has gotten.
I’m returning to what I have known — while we legislated our way into this, the only way out is through a revolution of compassion. That starts with me (and you). This poem speaks to that idea, I think, that the world is shaped from the inside out.
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
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.