Perhaps the World Ends Here

By Joy Harjo b. 1951 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 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.,

Source: The Woman Who Fell From the Sky (W. W. Norton and Company Inc., 1994)

Discover this poem’s context and related poetry, articles, and media.

Poet Joy Harjo b. 1951

POET’S REGION U.S., Southwestern

Subjects Living, Home Life, Relationships

Holidays Thanksgiving

Poetic Terms Free Verse, Metaphor

 Joy  Harjo


Joy Harjo was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma and is a member of the Mvskoke Nation. She earned her BA from the University of New Mexico-Albuquerque and MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Strongly influenced by her Mvskoke (Creek) heritage, feminist and social concerns, and her background in the arts, Harjo frequently incorporates Mvskoke myths, symbols, and values into her writing. Her poetry inhabits the Southwest landscape and . . .

Continue reading this biography

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, Home Life, Relationships

POET’S REGION U.S., Southwestern

Poetic Terms Free Verse, Metaphor

Report a problem with this poem

Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

This poem has learning resources.

This poem is good for children.

This poem has related video.

This poem has related audio.