The Diary of a Kitchen Table: An Accidental Series
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.
Before these walls, before this table, before our children, before these images, there was a dream.
A vision of a place where our family would come together and grow and sit and laugh and share. Just four years ago, this space had yet to be. The rooms were smaller and darker, the walls were old, and sagging from the inside out. Surely, they would have fallen in the next earthquake. So down the walls came, with a few rebuilt, to keep safe, and make space for the family that now sits around our table.
Then, came the table. A table already rich with a history far longer than our own. By way of truck, this old bowling lane found it’s way from Nebraska, to a flour mill warehouse in downtown Los Angeles. The day we brought it home to join our family, is as vivid as the day we brought our sweet boys home from the hospital. Now here our table rests, on wood saw horses, living out the next chapter of it’s history, as our family grows outward and upward around it. One day, the stories we will retell, while gathered here, will bring tears of laughter, happiness, frustration, and sadness, as we relive the moments that hold our family together.
Next came the babies. Our quiet, neat, uncluttered home began to echo with the sounds of infants growing to children. They grew from the cradling of our arms, to the autonomy of their own two feet, one at a time. Each taking their turn to sit, to climb, to lay, to stand, to lean, and to leap. The table, there alongside us, watching as these milestones have unfurled in it’s shadow.
And so came the photographs. I didn’t see it at first, how did I not see?! Maybe because it was not my intention from the outset.
For the last couple years, I have been working to document the history of our family, although this is the first year I began documenting daily. It wasn’t until I found myself looking backward upon these memories that I began to see the table as the center piece of so many images. It has become the heart of our home, just as we had envisioned for our family, so many years ago.