Small, wooden, stained a peeling dark red-brown, our kitchen table has moved with us from apartment to condo to house. It’s too short, so over the years I’ve glued and re-glued blocks of wood to the bottom of each leg. My little kids did their homework on it while I cooked for them, my teenagers and their friends talked and laughed around it while I cooked for them, my grown children sit around it laughing and drinking wine while I cook for them.
Salt and pepper grinders, Penzey’s Fox Point seasoning, a trivet that used to be my grandmother’s, cloth napkins each folded a different way to differentiate their owners, scuffs and burns from hot pots carelessly set down: this is our table, found curbside twenty years ago by me, who loved it at sight and for no apparent reason.
Now the table is leaving us, passed on to my daughter’s friend Shrimp, to be replaced by a kitchen island and four tall counter stools. When I sat at it yesterday eating a tomato sandwich, I thought of this beautiful poem.
Daily, by Naomi Shihab Nye
These shriveled seeds we plant,
corn kernel, dried bean,
poke into loosened soil,
cover over with measured fingertips
These T-shirts we fold into
perfect white squares
These tortillas we slice and fry to crisp strips
This rich egg scrambled in a gray clay bowl
This bed whose covers I straighten
smoothing edges till blue quilt fits brown blanket
and nothing hangs out
This envelope I address
so the name balances like a cloud
in the center of the sky
This page I type and retype
This table I dust till the scarred wood shines
This bundle of clothes I wash and hang and wash again
like flags we share, a country so close
no one needs to name it
The days are nouns: touch them
The hands are churches that worship the world
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What a beautiful poem. This poem could describe my mother, and I have always felt her hands feel different than any one else’s hands. Just something about them. 🙂
The story of your kitchen table reminded me of this great poem too:
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Melissa, I have always loved this poem too – so beautiful. AND, synchronicity – I almost posted the Joy Harjo poem instead of this one! They come from the same well. XO
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