Judith Issroff


                                                             in memoriam Gretti Izak


Your singular arresting responses elude me

albeit we converse as of yore

in the echo chambers of my mind

where improbable to impossible mingle unconflicted.

Inner eyes of imagination sport with accretions of memory,

weave cornucopia of magic, worlds of associations inter-tangle,

exhilarating, terrifying, extraordinarily moving dream sequences engage all my senses, weird wonderful merge, diverge, flee -

dream sentience elides into waking …

off balance, teetering, overwhelmed with myriads of flitting arresting images, whiffs of fragrances chase bile-tasting stenches disturbingly,

all I've ever heard, seen tasted, experienced, read, discussed, pondered, profane to sacred, glorious to disgusting, exquisitely private, provocative, painful,

touching on enthralling cultural emotional peak moments to experiential caesura, nothingness, black holes, aeons of Zizikian tedium, existential eternity eliding into shudders of orgiastic Tantric bliss

stoking a Thesaurus of images, poems, music,

a Tower of Babel of dreaming transformations, feasts of maxims, philosophies, unencompassable, this snowballing noospheric Pinterest of an Olympian dream …


I'm feverish, freezing, paralysed, leaping free, pole vaulting, a super gymnast, airborne, can breathe underwater, am primal sludge,

all of evolution, energies and waves,

aware beyond everyday human limiting abilities,

traveling faster than light beyond multiverses,

simultaneously the nascent collective organisms cohabiting collectives complexifying, diversifying, simplifying, becoming communes evolving into we amazing, terrifying, loving vicious humans (un)kind,


the birth of the reptilian, then bi-cameral mind,

on to sentient sports and revelations?

Of course I am struck dumb cavorting in one of G.B.Shaw's 'as far as thought can reach' realms, tripping ecstatically,

riding my chimera-dragon-broomstick, Am

glimpsing Teilhard de Chardin's omega-point,

observing through the trenches of time all of everyone's thoughts, mythologies, thundering stories, histories,

like Lumukanda and Lamavera, the grieving lost immortal African father and mother of warring genocidal offspring, Odysseus, Elektra, Adam, Eve, Noah, Isaac, Job,

Leila and Nusraddin, Mwara of the Shona,

I endure all my and we Jews own past lives, travails, triumphs, persecutions and losses embedded in memories in maternal mitochondrial RNA, coded in genetic protein sequences in every kind of cell

hanging together spinning this senescence-driven life-hungry span of recordable sentience.

Unbidden tribute to our friendship encompassing more than a half century of closely examined life, your recorded consciousness

our ongoing stimulating heritage:

impossible to depict in mere words the awesome,

astounding dream your death has gifted me ...

With heart, spirit and bated breath you watched the horizons, skies and seasons.

Questing for signs and symbols in outer reality, you noted the daily small and large happenings, changes in seasons, earthly and heavenly,

watched intensely these changes of light, refractions and reflections,

the minutiae and the magnificent.

I thought of your vigils as a need for soul fodder in your unconscious quest to both earth yourself and unconsciously, beyond your art and poetry, beyond haloed Yerushalayim of blues and golds, secrets and shadows,

to enrich the many shaded klipot of your inner radiance ...


(Does Tanya not teach that any and every act may have kabbalistic significance?


surprised, cosseted in glorious music softly singing to a day's turning light, a fabulous sky, sun light rainbow scattering all shades of indigo to greys to glories, fluffy white cloudlets drift, coalesce, blur, flurrying to fluttering


wings, some bird formations dance, become beautiful feather-cloaked Freya spreading peace,

disrupted by thundering Thor, Odin seeking knowledge, Heimdallr born of nine mothers sounding his jotunn Loki to bring tragedy…


Dense clouds rise, curl over familiar Japanese scroll depiction of tsunami waves clashing, spiraling in to whirlpools, water spot Chinese Holsteian Wagnerian Beethoven Mahler Schumann Faure conglomerates of great


orchestral themes to whales' weird accompaniment, washboards, zithers, a Jew's harp, a full Scottish one, then bagpipes wailing, to Flugelhorn. didjeridu, wind pitcher, bull roarer… everyone swingin’ singin' B.B. King, Nina


Simone, Ibrahim Abdullah, Harry Belafonte, Miriam Makeba, Satchmo, Billie Holliday, cool Sarah Vaughn, Chubby Checkers, Fats Waller John Coltrane, swingle singers, guppies gulping the grass growing we hear every


blessed note, and hells cacophonies..,

immense skies gather a column to lead our ancestors out of bondage ...

clouds play the skies our imagine game parading Olympians, entire mythologies…

a chimeric Charon remains after treating me to a grand parade of fabled gods of yore

cataclysmic thundering accompanying celestial fireworks, such marvelous electrical displays,

enthralled, we use our collections of lenses, telescopes, microscopes, flies' eyes, kaleidoscopes, wide angles, distorting,

and behold a you-faced great owl with angels wings as the heavens clear as if declaring the victory of malach hamavet.

The attention-greedy images dissolve for a random transient moment of that most cherished and elusive illusion - peace.


Greti, if ever a soul merited free range grazing, I fancy yours did.


Dreams mark the passing of those embedded in my heart's soul

too many to be mere coincidence,

too bizarre for an agnostic nonbeliever not to accept as accolade farewells, preludes tapping speedy snowballing memories to trigger overwhelming avalanches of experiences,

ongoing multilogues with you and those deeply cherished

whose voices sussurate in ceaseless inner converse ...

dancing, dreaming within my dream ... I fall asleep and dream an equally fabulous dream

as now as each time I mark the passing of a special friend

whose sudden death was foretold him or her- and so me -

too many to be mere coincidence,

too bizarre for an agnostic nonbeliever not to accept my dream accolade farewell

prelude to memories of all manner of experiences,

avalanches ongoing multi-Iogues with you & singular companions

cherished in my heart's soul.


Unbounded imagination rules where in dream as life we explore play seriously

on Rabindranth Tagore's endless shores our games, imaginative, real, folk of faraway trees, conundrums, chess, ping pong, tennis, squash, mah jong, Go, that Aztec game of death, hiking, adventuring, concert going,

at all the theatres of the possible and the absurd, in all the places we've ever been spell bound, as the days and seasons chase and change.


From cloudscapes of Drakensberg peaks majestic

swelling to Andean to Himalayan and ever more gigantic proportions,

my dream conjured sacred peaks, Macchu Picchu, Nepal, Bhutan, Tibetan plateaus and gorges, Sitting Bull sacred grounds, Asian fakirs, Lamas, Taikans, symbolic koans,

overflew deserts, dizzying cliffs, chasms, gorges gaping, canyons, caverns, caves, walls peeling, oozing, melting icicles cracking, dripping, falling boulders setting off great cracks, sheets, sink holes, water spouts, falling


chunks of frozen water, trickles to waterfalls to rivers, meanders, rapids coalescing to lakes, amazing breath changing landscapes, all eager for shafts of light, the traces of human and other animal passage,

the water eventually forming great rivers like the Ganges where belief-eager questing peoples gather, Jain, Zoroastrian, Bhutanese, animists, Sikh, Tao especially Monkey God, Shiva and consorts, various Buddhist, Hindu



those seeking pieces of lost arks, crosses, teeth, hairs from alleged Muhammed's or white steed Barak's or some messiah's resurrected body, fingers, lingam, semen, blood stained cloth, await the waters that started from the


Olympian summits, their light greedy mists transforming into a chimeric Charon after my mind's eyes' whirling show of all the greatest pictures I've ever seen flitting, flipping like some card sharp shuffling packs, throwing


apparent bridges of cards, pulling them out of a top hat that becomes a graduation coronet and wedding veil jewel-encrusted, dripping pearls,

then a jaunty beret atop Gretti's owlish studious head posing

proudly with diploma, cloaked for graduation.


You are having fun, limp rag doll in the claws of a thieving magpie,

your eyes open, meet mine fathoms deep,


your perfume tickles, your lips curve sweetly and you wink

as you transform into myriad magical mythical and literary characters

to appropriate wondrous music.

Elsewhere a more Fiji-like spiral of mini-eruption snakes up sinuous to curl over, rise and fill in shades of browns, Burnt Sienna, bluish and greenish to ochre earth and mottled greys shaping into the large sinewy rump of


handsome Belgian wolfhound Joy's hindquarters humping like a pouch area protective mama kangaroo

who turns affectionately leaning over backwards to grasp in her front paws

a ceramic become decorated Greek vase

from which emerges Gretti's head, eyes closed, smiling serenely peaceful.

Charon has become a vivacious tail-wagging Joy who is tenderly, vigorously and determinedly licking Gretti's one-dimensional then two- then altogether coming alive head and face.

Gretti's eyes suddenly open wide, she dimples and smiles, looks as young as and beautiful, as alight with mischief and curiosity as when we first met. (’58, ?’67)

Then, like Mary Poppins, actually Magritte-like, a full figure of Gretti, rises twirling, dancing, zooms to a waiting space craft--

young and smiling with umbrella seat walking frame cane folded

(as when we had stood or rather sat in our respective wheel chairs, propelling ourselves round the Israel Museum our last joint excursion there, enjoying clay masks in the children's section scarabs, sculpture gardens and the


then new courtyard tea room, old synagogues, beautiful dolls houses, rocks, crystals, jewellery, Van Gogh, Gaugin, Manet, and especially this especially well painted Magritte and other self portraits),

seeking a smiling Buddha from Burma who always made one smile back, best treatment for depression I knew, unfortunately removed to the store rooms,

so we inspected pre-Incaic and Aztec pottery instead, loved it and watched segments of anthropological films, listened to music as we had when we'd met in Paris, in Thessalonika, climbed the Parthenon, wandered St


Sophia, taken buses in Bulgaria, been to Black Sea resorts, met in Istanbul and Venice, Tierra del Fuego, Petra and Patagonia--

our endless curiosity about the world, discussions about any and everything, sharing of life stories and confidences, and especially the unanswerable questions leave me fabulously richly furbished to nourish the conversations


my alter selves will continue with my personal private you.


No, I would not cruise with you; seasickness, whirlpools and big waves terrify me - one real Mediterranean storm was quite enough for me--wanting to be dead and desperately wanting to go on living simultaneously while


throwing up is not my idea of a holiday break or enjoyment--even though I love flying fish, moonlit fluorescent foaming wakes, Norwegian fjords Northern lights, dolphin conventions, whales blowing cavorting with seals,


island hopping, snorkeling, the conversations my various alter-selves will continue with affectionate banter, but I have no capacity other than the undoubted plagiarism from your verses my dream displayed to emulate your


special brand of metaphors, neologisms and superb editorial skills.

I knew your pain dear friend: we spoke many a time of intimate griefs--privileged converse.

Too much of this dream too private, too full of ashes and loss, of Xanadu and opium dens, of murk and musk, to attempt to convey when finally its mystery meanings surfaced weeks later--awing and delighting me with


another dream function that even Freud, Winnicott, Hartmann, McDougall, Kristen and their numerous psychoanalytically-influenced followers had not lived long enough to discover.

So many images symbols, so much happened in that dream, and the clue was in my waking asking you (as if you and I were sitting there sipping tea, me consuming gnocchi or maybe beluga caviar or a cucumber sandwich


on a fine appreciated platter on an embroidered napkin from Madeira) "Greti, can a dream all be nothing but plagiarism? Is not all of everything in our human collective retrievable recorded treasure house ever a de novo


truly original discovery when everything is built on someone's previous effort?" "Who has written about that, where? I realize this dream

associates to or symbolizes everything I have ever heard, read, smelt, tasted, seen, experienced, has tapped total recall of every experiment, every character, mythology, poem I've ever read.

I can quote nothing, cannot recall names, cannot cope with numbers or simple arithmetic, can no longer read or play music, my memory is damaged over and above ordinary old age absent mindedness since chemotherapy


poisoning damage.

My headpiece and I am still slowly recovering, but the great discovery in this singular dream is that in dream space my memory is totally intact, eidetic, as if Wilder Penfield were operatively probing and stimulating--I


recalled in greatest clarity every moment of my life, including the life of the cells and sub-cellular particles, embryonic life, birth sensations, in one part of the dream we were rebirthing each other at Big Sur, tripping on LSD

(which I've never taken), I was living several past lives, speaking and understanding languages I know not the wot of that I presume ancestral grand great mothers back to the primal hominoids spoke; I dreamt images


through their eyes, felt those eras I could spend several lifetimes attempting to describe--we chased each other swinging from branches and leaves through tree tops, as past lives friends--you know I don't believe or


disbelieve any of this--but in my dream I experienced it--it is feasible.


This was the great discovery of the dream cryptography, that encompassed far too much and drew us out in infinite space and time warps beyond waking comprehension.

There's no wish fulfillment in re-experiencing the soul desecrating crumbling forever of the crematorium in Sorbibor so close to where the train tracks stopped--the glass walled mountains of accretions of what were once as


human as we.

Why would I want to recall or have reason to forget that you were with me to witness my public very Jewish breakdown demanding a minute's silence before lecturing beside the Warsaw Ghetto, our flight back from Poland,


our never quite recovering from interviewing Mengele's twin 'research' subject who--aged 10--survived watching live dwarves thrown into glass tanks of acid, several of his spinal nerves being cut without pain killers or even


a skin soaping, revealing his secrets for the first time to his equally horrified wife, then passing out cold, dead of a heart attack, and his miraculous resuscitation so that he later organized a reunion of the few surviving twins he


had led out of Bergen Belsen.

We shared the worst and the best of living in our planned and glad serendipitous meetings, the marvelous Venetian ghetto synagogues, Sienna, Prague, on the steps of the Acropolis, in a Cambridge meadow, atop a London


bus, we wandered the Barbican and the Museum of London, met in the Renoir foreign movie house, China Town, we read to each other, recommended and compared best beloved books, poems, operas, ballets, parks and


gardens, cartoon characters, pop-ups, fables, legends, Mythologies, anthropologies, Jerusalem lectures and walks, restaurants, neighbourhoods ..

In the dream as I wake I am asking your fading perky image at that stage

riding your umbrella like a broomstick, like Cupid's arrow, becoming David's sling, Cellini's doors, Rodin's greatest, Botticelli's model in her conch shell, Helen sneaking into Troy, the white horses of the Camargue


transforming into Chimeric laughing powerful Pan to Thor to Neptune, your lips venomous with truth, burning bushes reflected in rock pools, floods in Wadi Kelt, and memories galore of my childhood and earlier.

Thank you for so great a treasure house of memories and associations dear Gretti.

Thank you for this dream of all dreams which leaves me feeling peaceful, lips curving as I wake and your Magritte-Chaplin-Mary Poppins smiling figure dissipates with a good whiskey or 55!!brandy liquor in hand raised to


life, here and now and whatever secrets hereafter. ..