Tamarind


as read by Jeremy:



as sung in Robert Gross' setting by Pamela Dellal at the Boston Conservatory at Berklee, accompanied by Michael Manning (piano) and Roy Sansom (recorder):



I woke beneath the tree the Arabs call
the Date of India, beneath the tree
the Indians call the Imli.
I should not sleep here
where the dry pods of the tamarind
click against each other in the wind.

This is the tree whose fallen fruit
so bruised the walking feet of Radha
that she cursed it for delaying her
as she went to be united
with her love, Lord Krishna,
cursed it so its fruits would never ripen––
to this day the fruit falls to the ground
only half-ripe, still soft.

On the mountain slopes that face the sea
in Oman, the tamarind grows wild.
The Portuguese and Spaniards
took it everywhere they went.
The ghosts of India went everywhere
the tamarind was taken
and it gathered local ghosts
wherever ghosts were found.

The locals tell you not to walk beneath
the tamarind––the ghosts appear at night
but still I chose that place to sleep.

I listened as ghosts wailed
and whispered stories,
their stories and mine, I listened to them all.

Now that night has passed, come sit by me
beneath the tamarind, and I will do my best
to tell to you a few ghosts’ tales—
their stories and mine, I like to tell them all.

as read by Jeremy (audio only):


as sung by Pamela Dellal (audio only):