Kitchen Table Gospels


By Amanda Paulger

She said to me once,
This earth is one
Great big stone
Which grew life
One great big stone
With a heart
Beating, awake.
We should thank it for being alive.

My grandmother preached
At her kitchen table
Or over the stove while
She cooked breakfast,
“Vote, we earned this right,
Don’t squander it because
You’re lazy.”

And I remember thinking,
I’m only 15,
I can’t vote,
And I don’t even know politics
Enough to make a choice.

When she died and I had
To look at her body,
This shell of waxy flesh
Laying in her coffin
I remembered
Those kitchen table gospels,
Made from words
Carried, buried deep in her soul

And I thought,
Yes I will vote.
I will have a voice
To be heard.

And in the weeks following her passing
She visited me in dreams
And told me anything worth saying
Would also bring hate.
“Build your skin up to be armor against
These words of hateful people,
Build your mind to conquer their words,
Your sword against theirs,
And learn to be the better fighter.”

She was violet and I was indigo,
There in the twilight of the dream-veil,
Along the boat railings
That stretched into forever,
And she told me that life is too short
To stand around silent,
When those who came before us
Fought so relentlessly to give us
Our voices.

Her kitchen table gospels
Became dream-gospels,
Delivered from some twilight afterlife,
And then she was gone.

Like mist, she evaporated
Whispering that my voice
Would be my greatest weapon,
My skin my greatest armor,
My blood the greatest history,
My mind the greatest tool.

When I woke, I promised her
To build my voice with the
Bricks and mortar of her
Essence, soul,
To build them from the tools she
Brought to those kitchen table
Sermons, preaching,
Loudly over cooking breakfast,
I promised her on the dream ship
In the infinite twilight of the dream veil,
That I would make my voice heard.

And today I tell her,
My voice is heard,
And someday I will teach my daughters
And their daughters,
To speak as loudly as you taught me.


Category: Memoir, Poetry, SNHU Student