Edited and introduced by Wesley McNair, Maine poet laureate.

Stuart Kestenbaum of Deer Isle writes that today’s poem came from what he ate one day for lunch, namely, alphabet soup – “the perfect meal for a writer.”

Prayer for Joy

By Stuart Kestenbaum

What was it we wanted

to say anyhow, like today

when there were all the letters

in my alphabet soup and suddenly

the ‘j’ rises to the surface.

The ‘j’, a letter that might be

great for Scrabble, but not really

used for much else, unless

we need to jump for joy,

and then all of a sudden

it’s there and ready to

help us soar and to open up

our hearts at the same time,

this simple line with a curved bottom,

an upside down cane that helps

us walk in a new way into this

forest of language, where all the letters

are beginning to speak,

finding each other in just

the right combination

to be understood.

Take Heart: A Conversation in Poetry is produced in collaboration with the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance. Poem copyright © 2014 Stuart Kestenbaum. Reprinted from “Only Now,” Deerbrook Editions, 2014, by permission of Stuart Kestenbaum. Questions about submitting to Take Heart may be directed to Gibson Fay-LeBlanc at [email protected] or (207) 228-8263. “Take Heart: Poems from Maine,” an anthology collecting the first two years of this column, is now available from Down East Books.