How We Gather At The Table: A Prose Poem

Hannah Busing

“What if we joined our sorrows, I’m saying.
I’m saying: What if that is joy?”
Ross Gay*

What if we joined our wildernesses together? Wilderness of how we lost ourselves to this orderly line of sorrowing people signing in for all we can eat at the mission, air-conditioned against triple-digit heat on the streets we all walk, gathering each Monday, Wednesday, Friday for a hot lunch, paper plates piled with chili dogs, salad, jalapeños, chocolate cake, a plastic cup of sweet tea with ice, finding our place at the round tables of welcome.

No judgment, all equal, sorrow and joy conjoined for an hour of Thank You and fist pumps and seconds-for-everyone, no need to ask our story—all known—delight and darkness balanced for now, no tipping in that direction we know all too well, but for now, joy piled high, each wilderness outside tamed as a garden tendered toward blossom.

Susan Pigott

*Ross Gay. “‘Joy Is Such a Human Madness,’” The Book of Delights: Essays. Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 2019, pp. 43-50.