“Remember” by Joy Harjo

Remember the sky that you were born under,
know each of the star’s stories.
Remember the moon, know who she is. I met her
in a bar once in Iowa City.
Remember the sun’s birth at dawn, that is the
strongest point of time. Remember sundown
and the giving away to night.
Remember your birth, how your mother struggled
to give you form and breath. You are evidence of
her life, and her mother’s, and hers.
Remember your father. He is your life also.
Remember the earth whose skin you are:
red earth, black earth, yellow earth, white earth
brown earth, we are earth.
Remember the plants, trees, animal life who all have their
tribes, their families, their histories, too. Talk to them,
listen to them. They are alive poems.
Remember the wind. Remember her voice. She knows the
origin of this universe. I heard her singing Kiowa war
dance songs at the corner of Fourth and Central once.
Remember that you are all people and that all people are you.
Remember that you are this universe and that this universe is you.
Remember that all is in motion, is growing, is you.
Remember that language comes from this.
Remember the dance that language is, that life is.
Remember.

Joy Harjo, from How We Became Human

“Perhaps the World Ends Here” by Joy Harjo

During my last break, many of you emailed me to say hello and to send a favorite poem. One such email was from Jeanne M. in which she offered today’s poem. She emailed me in early December, but I didn’t see it until I returned last week. I have a strong feeling I wasn’t meant to see it until now, when the darkness around us is deep. It fills me with hope, it wraps me in sorrow, it is simply perfect–for today, for every day.

I am so grateful for this blog, and for you, gentle readers. I say often that people most in need find it when they need it most, and the same can be said for me, too. I found this poem, thanks to Jeanne, when I was most in need, when I needed it most. Thank you, Jeanne, and thank You, every day. -christy

 


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 (W. W. Norton and Company Inc., 1994). Copyright © 1994 by Joy Harjo.