With 2012 coming to an end, of course I’m in a reflective mood. There were many highlights this year; the big one was going to my baby sisters’ wedding in Italy. We stayed in a villa with all the family, 18 people under one roof for a week. The best part, the thing I miss the most, was eating together.
We spent our morning hours with coffee cups clasped in our hands, we laughed and told exhausted tourist stories, we relived our day trips, the things we had seen, the little ‘Italian-ness’ things we picked up on. We sat around the wooden country table every evening and ravenously ate steaming plates of pasta, drank deep of Tuscan red wines and toasted ‘Salute’ to the whole experience.
I loved those meals, you see, eating dinner together was big in my family. We ate dinner together until our schedules grew too busy, but even then, Sunday night we were expected to be home for dinner. My dad would put some classical music on and we would all sit down to eat together. I loved those meals, we might have rushed through eating but after we were through, we didn’t jump up and leave the table. We stayed and talked and laughed and told stories.
Do you remember the Billy Joel song, “We Didn’t Start the Fire”? The whole thing takes place in the kitchen because that’s where life takes place.
The other big ticket item this year was our survival of the end of the world; aka: the end of the Mayan Calendar.
You are probably wondering why I’m jumping around with my thoughts, but trust me, there’s a point here.
I ran across a poem that moved me, it’s been awhile since I found a poem that I want to read again and again. I just love when a poem finds me.
It encompasses everything I was talking about here: the end of the world and the dinner table. Enjoy the crap out of this poem as you ring out 2012 and in 2013.
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, 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.