bookcases, book boxes, heavy chairs and tables, I thought, if one person can get so much use out of plain old work tables, to what other uses could they be put? The vision that came to me involved eight women arrayed around a scuffed up, paint-stained, overloaded high-density polyethylene table. Each woman would represent a country or a continent, no two from the same ethnic group or class. One would be a physician, one an engineer, one a farmer, one from the arts, another a biologist, a mathematician, a policy maker, a social worker, a teacher, an environmentalist. Soon there would be multiple tables to seat homeless women, a mother, a pilot, old women, a high school senior, an immigrant, another immigrant, lots of lesbians, a meteorologist, an astronaut, a planner, a teacher, a librarian, and at least seventeen poets, including Nikki Giovanni and Mary Oliver for starters. Why the table? Silly question. Men have all the workbenches, don’t they? And the tool belts and those fire engine red toolboxes with the shallow drawers from Sears that hold so little compared to a six-foot table. No one needs all those Sears tools anyway. The table was perfect. Think about where we women were trained to work: the kitchen table, the ironing board, the dining room table, the never big enough kitchen counters. My mother had a vanity table. She loved to eat at picnic tables anywhere there was a babbling brook and trees, trees that would become wooden tables. Oh, for crying out loud, women were confined to changing tables and coffee tables and bedside tables. We know our way around tables all right. Now we bring our demands to the table. In fact, we have tables where the public can turn in guns. Tables where we leaflet for stopping wars, for equal rights, for reproductive rights, for gay rights. We “man” those tables all right. What better place to start than with eight women at each of eighty thousand mismatched tables, melding the nurturing tools of our minds, our love, our senses and sensibilities, the common ground of common and extraordinary women—pitting our inventiveness against obstacles, our creativity against the money-mad, and our combined brilliance against those who would table us forever. We are the homemakers, the housekeepers; we will set the tables on this planet, for it is our home. And to think, at the start of all this home-making, Fairy Goddaughter, you were the one who adapted the yokes that so burdened us— reshaped them into flat familiar surfaces around which we will plot reconciliation, regrowth, abundance, a world of safe and healthy animals, ourselves included. We’ll put all the tables together, end-to-end, so they belt and balance the globe. We’ll spread tablecloths with the patterns of every culture and share our repast while we solve things, woman to woman, once and for all.
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