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Saturday, September 7, 2019

Our Native American Poetic Star

“It’s about learning to listen, much like in music.  You can train your ears in history.  You can train your ears to the earth.  You can train your ears to the wind.  It’s important to listen and then to study the world, like astronomy or geology or the names of birds.  A lot of poets can be semihistorians.  Poetry is very mathematical.  There’s a lot in the theoretical parts that is similar.  Quantum physicists remind me of mystics.  They are aware of what happens in timelessness, though they speak of it through theories and equations.” – Joy Harjo, the first Native American U.S. Poet Laureate.

Harjo’s words, above, are in response to a Time Magazine inquiry, “What Advice would you give poets?”  
                          For Saturday’s Poem, here is Harjo’s,

Perhaps The World Ends Here

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.

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