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  • Writer's pictureNora Curry

Two Poems for Your Thanksgiving Table

Happy Thanksgiving from the staff of the Camden Public Library! This Thanksgiving may be a little odd for us all, but perhaps we can find a way to share in the oddity together and to continue to be grateful for the people, books, and natural wonders around us. At the library, we're grateful for each of our patrons who continues to support the library and to respect and care for our staff and space throughout a turbulent time.

A fellow librarian shared the following Joy Harjo poem with me at Thanksgiving last year, so this year, I pass it along to you, along with a beautiful poem of gratitude from W.S. Merwin. Whether your table is full as the one Harjo describes or a little altered (perhaps with a Zoom camera set up at one place setting?), I hope you all find joy and sustenance in the season and much for which to be grateful. We continue to have wonderful poets like Poet Laureate Joy Harjo and the lasting words of poets like W.S. Merwin. For that blessing, we can be thankful indeed.


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.

-Joy Harjo



Listen with the night falling we are saying thank you we are stopping on the bridges to bow from the railings we are running out of the glass rooms with our mouths full of food to look at the sky and say thank you we are standing by the water thanking it standing by the windows looking out in our directions back from a series of hospitals back from a mugging after funerals we are saying thank you after the news of the dead whether or not we knew them we are saying thank you over telephones we are saying thank you in doorways and in the backs of cars and in elevators remembering wars and the police at the door and the beatings on stairs we are saying thank you in the banks we are saying thank you in the faces of the officials and the rich and of all who will never change we go on saying thank you thank you with the animals dying around us our lost feelings we are saying thank you with the forests falling faster than the minutes of our lives we are saying thank you with the words going out like cells of a brain with the cities growing over us we are saying thank you faster and faster with nobody listening we are saying thank you we are saying thank you and waving dark though it is

-W.S. Merwin

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