The Gopi

Once upon a time, there was a girl who
herded cows, and she spent a good deal
of the week churning butter and storing
it in earthen pots along the ceiling,
held with sari fabrics  which smelled sometimes
sweet like almond milk, and sometimes
sour, like buttermillk and yogurt.

He was little, and dark, dark like her, a child and
he loved butter more than anything in the world,
(except maybe his mother, both of them)
and he’d gotten into her pots before, crawled in,
she found his face, covered in guilty, rich, butter,
“Now you know that wasn’t good of you!” She scolded,
but didn’t have the heart to really take him to task,
so now, she she stored the pots, earthen and brown and heavy,
waiting to give milk and butter, along the ceiling.

“That will teach him!” She said, laughing, a twinkle in her eye.
And because she was so confident of her skills,
so sure of the strength in her sari’s knots,
she stored all the pots she had
in a single room, and went to rest in the courtyard.

But the little fellow was clever,
and the little fellow loved butter,
and he and his brother and his friends,
crawled and climbed on each other’s shoulders

When she heard the crash, it sounded
like an earthquake, and she rushed to the scene,
fearing the worst, but there they were. All little boys, all
little babies, covered in guilt and creamy butter and diapers. She could feel
her lip start to tremble at the scene, hours, days of work  – everything, ruined,
spills everywhere, milk, streaming along the slight angle the floor took to the earth
and little baby boys sitting there in her work, eating to their heart’s content, guilty but happy as boys so often are. “Oh god!” she murmured, and the little boy turned to look at her, blinking, saw her crying and nearly cried too, he was sorry, a little, and he loved her, or her butter a lot , he wasn’t quite sure, he was just a little boy. “Oh, you’re just a little boy,” she said and blinked, smiling through her tears. “A clever little boy – now let’s see, are you hurt?”

– Forgiveness

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