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September 28, 2021

The Perfect Pot

Drew Rogers

The Town Potter sits in his shop, his wheel, as always, turning. His hands are earthy with the evidence of his efforts, a crust, mantle, and core in clay. Dozens of pots cover the countertops. Some of them are slightly askew. But most are decent, most would turn a profit. None, however, are perfect. None like his Perfect Pot, which sits at the center of the Town Galleria, and is revered for its excellency.

It's been years since the Town Potter made his Perfect Pot. And he has since been unable to produce an equal. He doesn't remember the process—that's part of the problem—or even how he was feeling on the day he made it. It had been a day like any other; that he remembers. But the pot itself, he had thought nothing of it at the time. And when the reviews finally came, praising the perfectness of his pot, the memory of its creation was long gone.

And so here he sits, all day and all night, wheel turning. He finishes pot after pot, and after each one softly whimpers. Sometimes he cries. Will he never again make a perfect pot?

"Look at him," say the people of the town as they pass by his window, "a genius at work."

Sometimes, after a long night of fruitlessly shaping clay, the Town Potter dreams a recurring dream in which he's meeting himself. The Town Potter asks the Town Potter for his autograph. He's handed a signed picture of his Perfect Pot. Then the Town Potter says, "Don't give up on your dreams," whereupon the dream ends, and the Town Potter wakes.

This time he wakes face-down in a lump of clay. With some force he removes himself, then looks down at the impression he has made in the semi-solid mound. He sees the shape of one eye, the bridge of his nose, the contours of his face.

For a long moment he stares, and then:

"A-ha!" he shouts, and jumps to his feet. "I've done it! Something equal to my Perfect Pot. Better even! The most imperfect pot ever created." He picks up the misshapen lump of clay and bursts through the front door, emerging for the first time in weeks.

Eyes narrowed against the bright day, the Town Potter runs through the town, laughing and laughing, his new masterpiece held aloft.

And the people of the town stop and stare. "Look at him," they say, "a madman."

That afternoon, they remove his Perfect Pot from the Town Galleria. Then they return to their homes, nodding their heads in agreement, and in certainty:

He never did have any talent.