Pot Man is a funny name unless you're made from a variety of large and small pots gathered by someone who had the imagination to create him. Two large pots with wires running through smaller pots, like veins, make up his trunk, arms, and legs. They say if you believe and you look through the knothole in the gate, he comes alive.
POT MAN

by Jenny Sturgill

I wait by the gate until the first gleams of dawn shine ever brighter into the full light of day. The light gives notice to the peeling paint on the rusty-hinged, wooden gate. The wind whispers through the trees as the cheerful sun rises. Up at the end of the garden path, under a dogwood tree cloaked with blossoms, slumps Pot Man sitting on his weathered white bench. Pot Man is a funny name unless you're made from a variety of large and small pots gathered by someone who had the imagination to create him. Two large pots with wires running through smaller pots, like veins, make up his trunk, arms, and legs. They say if you believe and you look through the knothole in the gate, he comes alive.

I kneel, the earth cool to my knees, close my left eye, and cup my hand around my face. Do I really believe? I press my right eye against the knothole and watch as he wraps his gloved hands around the rake to pull himself up. The pots rattle together like rolls of thunder. He eases one worn mud-stained boot before the other, teetering dangerously to the left but able to keep his balance. He tosses the rake over his shoulder then reaches up to straighten his frayed straw hat, revealing two intelligent looking button eyes that flutter open, then he strolls down the rock path. He looks my way. Did I see a smile cross his face?

His battle is now on with weeds, bugs, and critters. There is a weed pushing out from between the rocks. He stoops and twists it with his hand, plucks it from the ground and tosses it aside.

His eyes fall upon an egg-yolk colored daylily born just this morning. "Good morning sunshine." He reaches down to scoop her face in the palm of his hand. " Welcome." Birds singing fill the air. A bright yellow and black finch gently lands on his shoulder and bends its head to his ear sharing a secret only they know. Laughter echoes through the garden and the Finch zooms upward into the cloudless blue sky. Other birds hover and float to the ground like dry leaves.

Breakfast is being served to a sly grey rabbit, his plate filled with rich purple and white pansies. Quickly Pot Man bends and picks up a small stone and heralds it toward the thief and it bounces off the ground sending the rabbit fleeing through the pickets in the fence, kicking up storms of dust as he slides to safety in the underbrush of the woods. Pot Man stands with his gaze unblinking. "Next time I won't miss." He stomps a clump of dirt, crumbling it around his boot. At the edge of the woods the rabbit sits observing, waiting for the next opportunity to resume his breakfast.

Pot Man approaches the edge of a blue birdhouse filled with baby birds. He stretches forward and peers inside, letting his eyes linger. Out pop tiny heads, and they begin to sing a song that is so melodious and enchanting, all the residents of the garden stop to listen. Even the rabbit leans in to listen. I feel myself smiling eagerly. I am delighted to be a witness and bathe in the warmth that radiates from the scene.

Mother bird glides in and jabs him on the cheek. "Ouch," he rubs his cheek. You could've chipped my pot."

"You woke my babies from their nap. Don't do that! "

"Yes ma'am," he removes his hat and bows graciously, teetering dangerously.

The air is laden with the sweet perfume of the garden, a scent that teases my nose compelling me to inhale deeply. I watch as Pot Man ambles over to a pink rose bush and digs his rake into the soil. The ground is damp, and it has a rich aroma, worms wiggle and squirm to the safety of the earth. He gently turns the black soil over and over, like a chunk of dough, exposing its nutrients and tucks it gently around the bush's roots. He pauses to gingerly caress the pink, dew-covered roses. "You're all tucked in now for the summer."

My heart expands a little just watching.

Soon the sun burns high in the blue afternoon sky. His shoulders slump a little more, and with the back of his hand he wipes away the beads of sweat that has peppered his brow.

He stretches out his hands, making a sweeping gesture with his arm, and throws his rake onto his shoulder. "That's it for today gang." It seems his happiness flashes brighter and he draws everything around him in a circle of warmth. He turns and heads back up the stone path, his rake awkwardly balanced on his shoulder, looking back to admire his beloved garden to find the grey rabbit munching on his pansies again. There's no room for another battle. Not today.

He passes the gate and pauses; my breath catches in my throat that is so tight I cannot speak. He reaches across the gate, his fingers dirty with the earth and gently pats my head. "Good-bye child," he says. His kindness wrapping around me like a gauze shawl.

With a deep sigh and heavy steps he continues up the path to his resting place where you can find him deep in slumber, the garden now curiously silent.

They say, if you believe, he comes alive —

Copyright by Jenny Sturgill

Absolute Background Textures Archive

Back to Top

Short Story
Home