Brian Doyle’s prose poem got me thinking and sparked some interesting flights of fancy.
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).
So, one day not too long ago, I was minding my own business when dear writer friend Jessica Swaim sent me the following Brian Doyle prose poem. Does she know me, or what?
THE BLUE ROOM
by Brian Doyle
I was in a library in Utah the other night when
A small boy asked me to help him find a book.
The boy was perhaps four years old and intent.
I said what book would you like, little brother?
And he said, 'One with blue in it. A lot of blues.
One I can smell the blue. I love that blue. Mom
Says people can like other colors too, but why?
Is there a shelf for blue books? If lots of people
Read the book does the blue wear out? Is there
A blue bank where you have to get a new blue?'
You know, many times I have sighed that I am
Not able to help people who ask me for advice,
Or directions, or counsel about this or that. But
I don't think I ever wanted so much to say, hey,
Little brother, come with me to the room where
All the books are so blue that you have to laugh
At the seethe and soar of it; books about oceans
And herons and jays and the sky and Vida Blue,
Books about how blue used to be and might yet
Become, books brimming with azure and cobalt
And cornflower and iris and periwinkle and teal,
Books so blue that you dream in blue for days . . .
~ from How the Light Gets In: And Other Headlong Epiphanies (Orbis Books, 2015).