March 11 – Joy Harjo “Perhaps the World Ends Here”

Wednesday March 11 “Our dreams drink coffee with us”

Sometimes I get so busy that being behind on tasks distracts me from beauty.  That’s a shame.

Such a week this is proving to be.  One of the Jesuits I live with saw his first robin 3 days ago.  The snow plow piles shrink a little each day. says the morning is dancing with a high pressure system and bright sun 37º now 52º by 2:00.       Daylight savings time means the sun will set at 7:34.  Yes!!

Still we live with tasks and uncertainties, griefs and wounds.   Today, I found again this Joy Harjo poem, a reminder that the kitchen table serves our needs for food and work and mystical grace.

Blessings on the day.  Best to read the poem out loud, with some pauses.

john sj


Today’s Post  —  “Perhaps the World Ends Here”  

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. Used by permission of W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.,


p.s.       Last night I emailed a friend at the University of Oklahoma, made noteworthy by President Boren’s strong response to frat brothers caught with a video clip of them singing a viciously racist song.  My friend emailed by a short, eloquent response to me this morning.  Worth sharing.

“Yes, it has been very stressful all the way around. I approve Pres. Boren’s actions although I can’t help but wonder whether the kids involved (who, despite their protests, really are racist) will ever personally acknowledge it and come to grips with it in a way that could produce change. Of course, all things are possible. And you have to set standards of behavior and make an environment that is safe for all. But so much of facing racism is not about intellectually understanding the reality of broad human equality (although that’s part of it), but about emotionally understanding it. And that kind of emotional understanding gets built through contact and community, something that’s so absent in segregated America.”

This entry was posted in Poetry. Bookmark the permalink.