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.

From The Woman Who Fell From the Sky (W. W. Norton, 1994) by Joy Harjo. Copyright © 1994 by Joy Harjo. Used with permission of the author.

A knock at the door: it’s the boundary technician—
Dr. Transducer glides out of the blue
and into your pulse, come

to recalibrate your peaks and valleys.
Gloved in hiss, he unfolds the bolts
of your voltage, fiddles

your knobs and bones, bones
your spectral entrails—and deduces your output’s
plagued with fits of hysteretic

backlash. Whatever you utter
is noise shaped, a dizzy signal. The doctor’s
got the fix, and it’s a doozy:

he cleaves you to a graven
waveform erasure. He tunes you to a frequency
that lacks you out

then blows. The door swings
and bangs you shut, clouds pressed to the roof
of your mouth.

Copyright © 2019 by Joanie Mackowski. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on December 23, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.