Green Hills Literary Lantern

The Kitchen Table



The enamel was cold to the elbows

that weren’t supposed to be on it in the first place. 

It was mostly white, that table, but speckled

robin’s egg blue, and flat like the world was to you

back then, no matter that your teacher spun her globe

to show the round earth’s rotation. You knew that meteors

could never reach you with the velocity

that your big cousin claimed. “You’ll be splat,” he’d said,  

smacking his fist into his palm. You believed that comets

would break up into motes in the stratosphere and drop

with no more threat than graham cracker crumbs

onto linoleum. Beneath the table, there was perpetual motion—

three pairs of Mary Jane'd feet swinging, except when

you were forced to eat canned peaches with sour cream. 

Some nights your parents’ war was as silent

as the knives in the table’s drawer. 

You were part of something back then,

an eating team, a constellation

in which you were a minor blinking star. 


(note: this poem was orginally published by decomP, August 2012)


Rochelle Jewel Shapiro is the author of Miriam the Medium (Simon & Schuster). She has published essays in the New York Times (Lives), Newsweek, and has had poems and essays published in many magazines and anthologies. She teaches writing at UCLA Extension.