A cup of water

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

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

The new mother, mouth dry from
laboring in the dusty stable,
welcomed the woman’s gift
with outstretched hands.
She pushed aside the pouch
of gold, a vial of myrrh,
the pungent frankincense, and
patted the empty space beside her.