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Ella Bat-Tsion
(Israel, 1954–2019)   
Ella  Bat-Tsion

“I waited with endless patience”, wrote Ella Bat-Tsion in a a poem with that title:

like an autistic dream
at the gate of the institution
the heavy gate of the institution
something was made known to me, only for me
there is something just for me
not all is lost

But Bat-Tsion, who died February 26, 2019, is now lost to us, except in the words she left behind. The poet was “[pre]occupied by a search for God and a longing for divine love,  according to Rami Saari, who writes in “The desire to be held in heaven's arms” [see link at right] that

One explanation of the obsessive attempts to reach divinity, to achieve the soul’s correction or perfection, and to decipher heavenly dreams, may be found in the poet’s own apparent personal distress. The depictions of Paradise recurring in so many of her poems paradoxically emphasize its loss, and the presence of a consuming fire. It is obvious that the preoccupation with big issues like God’s dreams helps to distance the poet from the tribulations of daily life.

Bat-Tsion began to publish her poetry, under the name Gabriella Elisha, at the beginning of the 1970s; since then 10 books have appeared. A librarian by profession, she was also an editor and translator from English and French into Hebrew. Mysticism, strong sensuality, violence and softness, all surface in her poetry. A few of her poems are sharp and even rude, others shed light on a woman in search of identity, faith and love.Bat-Tsion/Elisha was a guest of the Rotterdam Poetry International Festival in 2004, where postcards featuring her poem "The Orange Exploded in my Hand" were distributed:

The orange exploded in my hand
my love was inside the orange
my love gave birth to a monster
the orange exploded in my hand

In the pastoral setting my orange bleeds
the heart of the pastoral conceals the blood
the blood cries out under a geranium
the geranium feeds on the bleeding heart

Evening explodes in my hand, my hand and fingers unravel
a hot clumsy hand stitches darkness in zigzag
the orange exploded in my hand the orange spits blood
evening is crowded in an old tin can

The sea gathers in my lap I stroke its head
Sleep and be silent the sea the sea—     

May her memory be a  blessing.

© (Translated by Lisa Katz), Poetry International


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