star polisher or mustache twirler: what would I choose?

Brian Doyle’s prose poem got me thinking and sparked some interesting flights of fancy.

Carol Schwartz (What If There Were No Sea Otters?, 2010).
IF YOU COULD DO ANYTHING ELSE, WHAT WOULD YOU CHOOSE?
by Brian Doyle

Given another interest, or absorption, in life, asks a student
In the high school, what is it you would choose? And don't
Think about it -- just blurt out whatever leaps to your mouth.
Otter observer! I say, and perhaps half the students laugh,
But the others look puzzled. Bear expert! Bassoon maestro!
Cartoonist! Trumpeter in a ska band playing the early stuff!
Professional badger herder! The guy who brings radio back
As the coolest media ever! Editor of a magazine about jays!
He who banishes despair with a touch of his left forefinger!
He who miraculously hears yes again every afternoon when
He sends his request to be married through the holy ether to
One woman in particular! And there I pause, just as startled
As the kids at what has jumped out, and then, unforgettably,
A few kids start to applaud, and then a few more. Afterward
One shy girl says to me I sure hope I meet a boy who thinks
Like that about the woman he thinks about, and I said I hope
So too and he thinks about you, and we shook hands and she
Slipped away, and the next kid says to me, sir, really, otters?

~ from How the Light Gets In: And Other Epiphanies (Orbis, 2019).
“The Orchestra at the Opera” by Edgar Degas (1870)

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Cooper Edens

What would I choose?

These popped into my head:

Noodle inspector! Star polisher! 18th century innkeeper! Chocolate taster! Can-can girl! Mustache twirler! She who inspires everyone to tap dance!

Then I spent a little more time thinking about what I yearned to do at different times in my life:

set designer (TV or films)
interior decorator
bakery owner or pastry chef
museum curator
restaurateur
antiquarian

Which led me to remember a book Iโ€™ve always loved: Caretakers of Wonder by Cooper Edens (Green Tiger Press, 1980). 

Yes, this is definitely what I would choose: to be a Caretaker of Wonder, someone who works to keep the world magical. Someone who paints feathers on birds and designs on the wings of butterflies. Someone who collects yesterdayโ€™s raindrops, mends old clouds, and delivers newly stuffed ones.

And then . . . AHA! I realized writers and poets have been caretakers of wonder all along. They’re committed to working quietly behind the scenes, showing us what is true, opening our hearts, reminding us of what is possible, perpetuating beauty, singing the human song.

Thank you, Brian Doyle, for yet another epiphany. ๐Ÿ™‚

Enjoy this lovely reading of Edens’s book:

If you could do anything else, what would you choose?

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โ™ฅ๏ธ GIVEAWAY WINNERS! ๐ŸŽƒ

Today we’re happy to announce the winners of three recent giveaways. It was no small feat picking them, since we had to triple bribe Monsieur Random Integer Generator . . . after we tracked him down, of course.

Our dashing, debonair, erudite friend, a master of elusiveness, almost slipped completely under the radar. Leave it up to the ever clever Mr Cornelius, who baited him with the aroma of one hundred freshly baked apple pies. Unable to resist, M. Generator beamed himself in from Loch Lomond, where he had been guzzling throwing back thoughtfully sipping wee drams with Sam Heughan.

One would assume all those apple pies would sate a gourmand’s appetite, yet M. Generator required more. We offered him 545 cream flans, 232 pumpkin spice lattes, 31 loaves of cinnamon chip bread, and an adorable miniature watermelon. He polished everything off in minutes, then expressed sincere regrets that he could not declare everyone a winner.

Alas and alack, he finally reached into the depths of his psyche to produce three names.

๐Ÿฅ **drum roll please**๐Ÿฅ

*

*

*

The winner of ABUELITA AND I MAKE FLAN is Linda Ham. ๐Ÿ˜

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The winner of ON A GOLD-BLOOMING DAY is Joanne Conte. ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

and

The winner of the ALPHABET SOUP BUNDLE OF JOY is Jane Dyer. ๐Ÿ‘

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๐ŸŽ‰ Congratulations, Linda, Joanne, and Jane!!! ๐ŸŽ‰

Big thanks to everyone who entered. We’ll announce the winner of Annette Dauphin Simon’s SPINE POEMS next week. ๐Ÿ™‚

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Sarah Grace Tuttle is hosting the Roundup this week. Zip over to her site to check out the full menu of poetic goodness being served up around the blogosphere. Enjoy your weekend!

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*Copyright ยฉ 2022 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.

41 thoughts on “star polisher or mustache twirler: what would I choose?

  1. Jama! Star polisher….I need permission to poem about this! I love the whole idea of it and the original poem and all the stars in this post. What an uplifting way for me to start my day. I’m so going to share this poem with students.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Glad you liked this post, Star Girl!! Have fun sharing the poem with your students. I’m gradually learning more and more about Brian Doyle’s work.

      Like

  2. Doyle’s poem made me tear up! Exactly what a Caretaker of Wonder peot does! You always inspire me, Jama. Thank you for all the possibilities this post presents. And otters? Yes, please! xo, B
    (Boy, M. Generator is a master negotiator, too! I’ll take a piece of pie. ๐Ÿ™‚ )

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sorry to disappoint, but M. Generator ate all the pie we had on hand. Just have to bake some more. We do have lots of cheese, though . . . ๐Ÿ™‚

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  3. I would be exactly what I retired as: a librarian! I have always loved books, and being around them all day, and doing reader advisory and even helping with homework assignments was and is still my dream life! Now I do all of the above with my friends, relatives and of course grandchildren!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Oh Jama, this post it balm for the heart. Poets as “caretakers of wonder.” I love it! A few of the things I’ve wanted to be in my life: waitress, singer, marine microbiologist, march ecologist, actor, trapeze artist, photographer… the list goes on! Thank you so much for sharing. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    1. What a fascinating list, Sarah! I especially like trapeze artist, actor and singer. When I was growing up, I wanted to be a waitress and my mom kept telling me I wouldn’t like standing on my feet all the time. Maybe she was right — but the food industry did fascinate me, though now I know it’s such hard work.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I think you are a caretaker of wonder, Jama. I love Doyle’s poem and I am mostly grateful that I’ve gotten do so many different things so far in my life and hope that others have the same opportunities to try new things.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Jama, I’ve missed you. (My own choice to take a break, but still.) I am a HUGE Brian Doyle fan and yet–why not?–don’t own a book of his. Yes, we are the caretakers of wonder. In that vein, may I suggest an Ear Candy sidebar? Pรกdraig ร“ Tuama goodness gracious.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Alas, I can’t add any more widgets to my sidebar as I’m using an older theme and WP keeps updating the software to exclude me. Anyway, I will look up Padraig O Tuama. ๐Ÿ™‚

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  7. You are certainly a caretaker of wonder, Jama, which is why I always return here to see the wonders you’ve carefully curated, polished, arranged, and shared with us. โค๏ธ

    And oh, how I loved Brian Doyle. I was heartbroken when he died so young.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I do not know Brian Doyle, but am off to learn more. I love what you have here, every bit of it. You are a gem and I am sad I have missed so many postings. I can look forward to having them all tucked away here in your archives and on the next snow day I think I will gather goodies in your honor and read and read and read and be inspired. Yes to wonder and dreams and living fully in our hearts, lives and minds. Kindness to the world and those who inhabit it with beauty, art, words, delights and delicious food. I think maybe I would dream to be your friend and neighbor in real life. How do you do this week after week, you are a wealth of inspiration, information and intrigue. Thank you so much as always.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much for your kind words, Janet! I’m lucky that a special friend gifted me with a couple of Brian Doyle books, which I enjoy dipping into from time to time. My archives await your next snow day read. Be sure to have lots of cocoa, tea, and cookies on hand. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Like

  9. Yes! I agree with the others who said you are a “caretaker of wonder.” I always learn something new from your posts. Star polisher sounds amazing!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Oh, Jama – a post to return to when I’m wondering where my Muse might have ducked off to…. THANK you! And, quite a spread you & Mr. C. had to conjure up for Mssr. R. I. Generator. But, having been to the beautiful Loch Lomond myself once, I can understand his reluctance to leave. Slร inte! xo

    Liked by 1 person

    1. How lucky you are to have visited Loch Lomond. It came to mind since Sam Heughan was actually there recently. ๐Ÿ™‚ Yes, Mr C and I sometimes have to work hard at bribing M Generator — but he’s worth it!

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Thank you for this wondrous post, Jama. I adore Brian Doyle’s writing and now I’m eager for more. Gardener, architect, marine biologist are just a few of my might have beens…One of the best things about being an elementary teacher is that I get to be them all!

    Liked by 1 person

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