The Metaphor :

by | Feb 20, 2024 | Uncategorized | 1 comment

He took another handful of yellow grains from his bag and scattered them with a giant arc of his arm.

This short tale comes from a conversation yesterday which, like it’s subject, planted the seed…


The old man held out his gnarled, calloused hand. In the palm, which resembled a relief of the surrounding mountainous country, sat one tiny seed. It was wedged in a crevice in the skin. The scar of a keen that would open, erupt and bleed every winter, due to the dry coldness of the air.

This seed was not like the others, golden and uniform; the ones he’d scatter on the field at this time each year.

He cursed the little kernel for contaminating his bag of winter wheat. God knows it’s expensive enough, he thought. The old man prised the little grain from it’s home and was about to flick it into the hedge when something stopped him.. he rolled it around in his rough palm, took it in his thick thumb and forefinger, and placed it in the top pocket of his ragged wool jacket.

He took another handful of yellow grains from his bag and scattered them with a giant arc of his arm. When the whole field was sown and the bag empty, he folded it neatly and headed back to his cottage. His bones creaked with arthritis and his stomach gurgled with hunger.

He placed the big blackened kettle on the fire and took down the caddy from the shelf. Spooning two scoops of black tea leaves into the teapot, he followed them with two more of sugar. He cut two thick doorsteps from the loaf on the board and spread them thick with shining butter that had been warming near the fire. He wiped both sides of the knife on the second slice, placed it on the table then took a bite. The taste never faded, nor the texture. The only thing to top it was the crust he’d eaten that morning, before going out to sow.

As the old man masticated the yeasty, buttery, crusty mouthful, he wrapped the tea towel around the handle of the kettle and tipped it’s steaming contents into the teapot.

Fresh saliva flooded his full mouth, coating the bready mix, as the woody aroma of freshly scalded tea tickled his nostrils. He thought of his late wife and their countless breakfasts. She would have had all of this ready for him in a perfectly choreographed culinary dance. He stirred the contents of the pot and placed the lid on, taking another bite of his bread. After a couple of minutes, he stirred again, then poured a long amber ribbon of tea into his mug. He loved to hold the pot as high as he could, so as the tea frothed and bubbled up the side of the cup. There was nothing like the first sip, especially with a mouthful of buttery bread!

His mouth burned from the scalding tea but it was the way to have it. To savour the bitter tannin and soft, spicy flavour of the brew. Suddenly, the little seed entered his head and he tried to liberate it from his top pocket. His thick, calloused fingers poked around clumsily in the little pouch, trying to locate the minute grain.

Without warning, a voice resonated in the room. Muffled and indistinct. He looked around for it’s source, to no avail. Resuming his search, he poked around in the pocket, eventually giving up on the stupid parasite.

“So that’s it? You’re just going to leave me here?” The voice again. This time clearer, sharper.

“Who is it? Where are you?” The man called, directing his voice to the open window, for the room was empty except for his own self.

“I’m here, where you left me. Try taking off your jacket. Turn out the pocket,” came the reply.

He stood up, looked around and approached the window. Leaning out, he looked up and down the lane.

“Hello! Who’s that? I know you there. You’ll get a thrashing if you don’t come out!” He called, turning his head back and forth.

“What on earth are you doing? I’m here, in your pocket. For goodness sake. Get me out. It’s stifling here.” The voice pleaded.

The old man peeled off his jacket and turned out the pocket. The tiny seed rolled onto the table, settling in a groove in the grain of the wood.

“At last. Fresh air. When did you last wash, old man?” The words came from the table, no doubt about it. He leaned over the table and placed his large saucer-like ear over the seed and closed his eyes. The next thing made him jump, staggering back in shock.

“Steady man. Not to close. You could grow potatoes in that ear. In fact you could plant me there.” The voice was loud and clear. Gaining his composure, he looked around the room again. This time to make sure he was alone – well, sort of. He inhaled deeply.

“Is that you? Seed?” Immediately, he felt stupid. Who on earth talks to seeds? He’d been alone too long. What do they call it? Cabin fever?

“Of course it’s me. Who else do you think it is?” Replied the seed. For he was resigned to the fact that the source of the voice was indeed on the table.

“What do you want of me? Who are you?” He gave in to the whole charade and sat down, head in hands.

“For your information, I am one on one-billion, and a nice pot full of warm, damp soil would go amiss” The old man stared in disbelief. He took a large chunk of forearm between thumb and forefinger and squeezed hard.

“Ouch! Jesus, that hurt!” He shouted.

1 Comment

  1. Kenneth Childs



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