A cup of water

A village woman stands at the periphery,
a jug of water balanced on one hip.
She holds her daughter’s hand
until the young girl, bored watching
the scene in front of her,
pulls free to chase a lamb.

The woman waits for her moment
to slip between the important men
uttering prayers, slides an earthen
cup from a fold in her skirts
and fills it with cool water.

The new mother, mouth dry from
laboring in the dusty stable,
welcomes the woman’s gift
with outstretched hands.

She pushes aside the pouch
of gold, a vial of myrrh,
the pungent frankincense, and
pats the empty space beside her.

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