This week’s poem offers us a spare blessing. When a poem is this spare, this quiet, as with a person who speaks quietly but forcefully, we lean in to listen.

What I love about this poem is how it blurs the exterior and interior. Where did the “word” referred to come from? And what word is it? Perhaps the word itself is not as important as its effect, how it “lights up all the dark little rooms of the body.” Each of us in different moments might have a word that enters our bodies and changes the light.

Kristen Case lives in Temple and teaches at the University of Maine at Farmington. Her most recent book of poems is Little Arias (New Issues, 2015).

Benediction (III)

By Kristen Case

As when a word, typed or spoken,

lights up all the dark little rooms of the body.

As when a word rends interior space.

There is no interior space.

Now the roofs of houses.

Now the narrow limbs of the maple.

When the word blossoms on the small screen in your hand

it enters your lungs through a circuitry you can’t fathom.

Beauty is a wound.

All the birds say it.

Gibson Fay-LeBlanc is Portland’s poet laureate. Deep Water: Maine Poems is produced in collaboration with the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance. Poem copyright © 2017 Kristen Case. It appears here by permission of the author. This column is accepting submissions through Oct. 31. Poems must be written by Maine poets or about Maine. Submissions must be made online. For more information, go to

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