Krishna and the Cowgirls

(after Surdas)

Sir, I believe you are what we in the village
call a “philosopher,” a man
who spends his nights in deep thoughts
because he cannot get a girl to share his bed.
You come to teach us the love of Krishna.
Believe me, we cowgirls have so much love
for Krishna that our insides melt
and our bodies burn when we hear his name.
We were the first to name him Mountain Lifter,
though more often we called him Butter Thief.
To be yogis, you say, we must think
of nothing but Krishna night and day.
If so, we are the most devout of yogis,
constantly scanning the horizon,
impatient for him to return to our arms.
You say the real Krishna is not the hero
who shared our beds and stole our butter,
but some sort of inner spirit for whom we should
abandon lovemaking and other pleasures.
Since he went away we have abstained,
and I tell you it is no fun.
What kind of physician can you be, the poet asks,
who hands out prescriptions
when he doesn’t know the disease?

From Larry Turner’s poetry collection “Eden and Other Addresses” (Infinity Publishing, 2005).