Friday, November 20, 2020
Dear Head-Royce Community:
As we approach a week away from school and perhaps work for many of you, I hope Thanksgiving break allows time for rest and rejuvenation. I offer up a video and poem from Poet Laureate, Joy Harjo, a member of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation. Her poem “The World Ends at a Kitchen Table” is a favorite of mine because, in the simplest of terms, the kitchen table is a centerpiece, a space for gathering and conversation, no matter where we live or what we believe and support.
“Poetry reminds us that we are connected beyond words,” Harjo says. “[P]oetry has the potential to expand the conversation into wordless depths, to help us move collectively into fresh cultural vision.” Take a few minutes to read this poem with your family over the break, or listen to Joy Harjo read it aloud herself, introduced with her reflections on the connection between food and stories, and the meaning behind her lasting, powerful poem.
The way Harjo acknowledges pain alongside gratitude, victories alongside fear, feels especially appropriate this year, given all we’ve weathered. Perhaps you and your family will “sing with joy” for your time together, and yet “with sorrow,” missing those loved ones who cannot travel to join your Thanksgiving meal.
And still, “we give thanks.” Each of you brings a unique perspective to the “kitchen table” of Head-Royce and I feel so grateful to be in community with you all.
Take good care,
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
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.