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)

*

Continue reading