A Letter From Israel
by Tali Cohen Shabtai

I miss you so much
My poet
I miss Oslo.

You come to visit me,
Like a platonic figure
For a woman who lost the
In a city with no drawing,
With a man stuck with a broken foot
To the celebration of the woman that I am

And the women here named the same
Perfume over ten years
While I named (at the same time)
The same pills.

This is my accompaniment
I cannot beautify
My life
As you can’t either.

So I’m eating you
A little too much – sometimes with
My ripeness.

With my clouded eyebrows
And a cigarette in
My mouth

You wear the Kippa that I bought you
With Norwegian letters
Spelling your name

There is no better tribute here
My love,
This is

Brev fra Israel
av Tali Cohen Shabtai

Jeg savner deg så
Min poet
Jeg savner Oslo
Kom til meg
Som en platonisk figur
Etter en kvinne som mistet
I en by uten en tegning
Med en mann stuck med et brokket bein
Til feiringen av den kvinnen jeg er
Og til de kvinner som her har samme navn
Parfymen over ti år
I mens jeg navngir ( alt til samme tid )
Den samme medisin

Dette er mitt akkompagnement
Jeg kan ikke forskjønne
Mitt liv
Ei kan du
Så jeg spiser deg

Litt for mye – noen ganger med
Min modenhet

Med mine lukkede øyenbryn
Og en siggarett i
Min munn
Du bærer Kappa jeg kjøpte til deg
Med Norske bokstaver
Ditt navn er skrevet

Kan jeg gi noe bedre hyllest
Min kjære,
Dette er

Translated to Norwegian by Finn Cato Ophus Andersen

Previously published in the author’s bilingual poetry book Protest (Iton 77 Publishing House, 2012).  The poem was also featured in The Last Bohemian, a 2014 documentary where the author appeared.

PHOTO: “Oslo, Norway, at night” by Jørn Eriksson (2014), used by permission.

cafe sara

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: The poem “Letter from Israel,” with its translation into Norwegian, was written after my return to Israel from Oslo. In the poem, I head to Oslo in the form of a Norwegian poet that I knew there. I express my longing and desire to return to Oslo from my grim reality in Israel.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: I took this picture. There is something inspiring about the empty streets of Oslo at night, another scent. You can feel the atmosphere in this picture. The photo is outside a restaurant bar, Café Sara. That’s where I often came to know local artists. Café Sara is located at Hausmanns Gate 29, 0182 Oslo, Norway. (Photo from the author’s private album.)


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Tali Cohen Shabtai is a poet who was born in Jerusalem, Israel. She began writing poetry at the age of six. While a student of literature, she began to publish her impressions in the school newspaper. When she was 15, her poetry appeared in Moznayim, a prestigious literary magazine in Israel. She has written three books of poetry: Purple Diluted in a Black’s Thick (bilingual, 2007), Protest (bilingual, 2012), and Nine Years Away From You (2018). Her poems express spiritual and physical exile. She lived for some years in Oslo, Norway, and in the U.S.  She earned her bachelor’s degree at the David Yellin College of Education, and in Israel is a member of the Hebrew Writers Association and the Israeli Writers Association. In 2014, she participated in The Last Bohemian (Den Siste Bohemien), a Norwegian documentary about poets’ lives. In 2020, her fourth book of poetry will be published. Her literary work has been translated into many languages.