A common household object became the focus for this lesson, while studying Joy Harjo’s poem, Perhaps The World Ends Here. The poet James Merrill once commented that ‘we understand history from the family around the table.’
Lesson Note: Harjo’s work is often autobiographical, informed by the natural world, and above all, preoccupied with survival and the limitations of language.
“I feel strongly that I have a responsibility to all the sources that I am: to all past and future ancestors, to my home country, to all places that I touch down on and that are myself, to all voices, all women, all of my tribe, all people, all earth, and beyond that to all beginnings and endings. In a strange kind of sense, [writing] frees me to believe in myself, to be able to speak, to have a voice, because I have to; it is my survival.” -Joy Harjo.
Ms. McClain, 8th Grade
by Maxwell B.
Sitting. talking with my brothers
Laughing. happy unorganized joy,
screaming, loud, happy screams.
Food is plentiful at the glass table
Unfaltering hands don’t hesitate to bring more to eat
The food on our table is not a question, but an exclamation
That proves our safety, like a lighthouse over a dark
It satisfies, fills, confirms
But provides an undeniable weight over the table
Sometimes lighthouses can’t provide enough light
And glass shatters into shards,
Destroying our nourishment and everything it gave.
by Natalia B.
At our table we discuss our feelings.
At our table, I’m sitting with my friends
And we’re making memories together,
But the one thing that never leaves my mind
Is what the table will hold for me tomorrow.
Thoughts flood into my head of what could be
Laughing, crying, talking
I’ll never know
But the table was here yesterday,
The table will be here tomorrow
it was there when I was put in a highchair.
It was there for my mom on her restless nights.
It’ll be there when I’m eating with my kids.
It’ll be there when I’m by myself at my table.
It’ll be there when its owner is gone.
the table is a place for games
It will have victories or failures
The table is a place to work
it is a place where you’re not mocked
The table is a place to tell jokes
It is a place where you can laugh
The table is a place to enjoy life
The table is a place for anything
Everything happens at the table.
We are entertained while we watch
TV, we have fun when we talk. I’m
bored win the never-ending board games.
The room is always full of chatter when
we are at the table.
We host friends or family, talk about
life, sometimes sit in silence.
As I said before, everything happens
at the table.
Ms. Cavey, 7th Grade
by Elenor K.
Whether it be over family
and bond over experiences,
devastating or joyful.
Silly or serious.
It’s the little things that make us
It All Happens Here
by Cora W.
Papers, books, dog treats, a makeshift medicine
It all happens here
In a place full of life
And Joy and Tears and Panic
The calm of being with those I love
And the overwhelm of too many that I love
It all happens here
Passing through every day
Eating food full of passion
And eating just to get by
A dog who turns his butt to us
But jumps up for a walk
Podcasts blaring loud
And music just for me
It all happens here.
by Emil V.
Exchange. How was your day?
Exchange. How was school/work?
Exchange. How’s the weather?
Many things go on the dinner table
for it is a hub of exchange.
Between the utensil holding your food & your
Between you and your relatives.
At this table, we make memories
good and bad.
We remember the talks, the
good food, the entertainment.
But we also remember the
border and the dread.
But at this table, everything
leads us back to it.