"Kitchen Table Poem"

One set of markers. And then another.

Some in their boxes, some without covers.

Two lined notebooks, spiral bound.

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An orange water cup. A princess crown.

One egg carton for some creation,

Forgot now what sparked such imagination.

A small sticky puddle of chocolate ice cream.

Some glitter, some glue sticks, a 5-year-old’s dream.

And somewhere in pencil is Rosie Gene’s scrawl.

There’s a splash of nail polish, a race car, a doll.

A pile of SweetTarts left stacked from Monday.

Ten-thousand hair bands. A unicorn. Clay.

And underneath, on the floor, I don’t want to look,

half a cookie, a puppy, squished Play-Doh. A book.

When the supper bell rings, you’d think, if you’re able

You could serve your fried chicken at the kitchen table

But able we’re not, because, well, we have kids

and it seems that our table has turned into this.

A surface for projects and dreaming and snacks,

and paper for drawings, stacks upon stacks.

I’d clear it away, some days I insist,

then others I simply just let it exist.

As an ode to these times that quickly pass by.

Oh, the mess we can clean, but the clock won’t unwind.

I know it is true, I remember the time

when our table was set up simply to dine

and make up to-do lists, eat cinnamon toast

or romantic spaghetti or a Tuesday night roast.

I remember the quiet, the slow conversation

about long weekend plans, or gasp, a vacation.

But now if we’re lucky, two words pass between us

overtop of tall tales and loud songs and screeches.

And this table, it listens, it hears all these things,

the “Please sit on your butt” and “Listen to me!”

And the “What’s been your favorite part of the day?”

Or, “I love it when you make the hotdish this way.”

Oh, I can’t help but think it’d like to talk, too,

to say maybe go easy on the paint and the glue.

Or to comment on how fast they want to grow up

from bottles to sippies to pink big girl cups.

To thank goodness for sponges and quality soaps

and for all of the prayers it heard as we spoke.

Because here among colors and the half-squeezed juice box,

the pipe-cleaner bracelets and collection of rocks,

if you sweep past the crumbs and the coffee cup rings

you’ll find a spot at the table, a front seat to our dreams.

Sometimes, tables are used for a lot more than dining. Jessie Veeder / The Forum
Sometimes, tables are used for a lot more than dining. Jessie Veeder / The Forum

Jessie Veeder is a musician and writer living with her husband and daughters on a ranch near Watford City, N.D. She blogs at https://veederranch.com. Readers can reach her at jessieveeder@gmail.com.