“Dispatch from Caesarea, Israel” by Caroline Goldberg Igra

igra illus
Capitol Hill Books, L.W. Yang

These days, when I open a book, expecting to dive into a fictional world, I find myself unable to reach the end of almost any sentence. Responding in alarm to each turn. Why are they taking a run together on that beautiful path by the Charles? Why are they sitting next to one another enjoying warm, frothy cups of cappuccino? Why are they knocking knees and elbows in the audience at the Philharmonic?

No! They can’t drive out to Provincetown and lie on a crowded beach. They can’t brush by one another as they pass in the stairwell. I’ve got to stop them. I have to interfere.
Now the fictional characters are losing patience. They have places to go, people to see, things to do. Who is this pesky reader who insists on insinuating limitations on their world? “Don’t scratch your nose.” They crinkle their faces at me in consternation. She’s lost her mind. “Get your hands away from your face. This is serious!” Now they’re getting angry.

What’s left? Movies? Scenes in a crowded casino, noisy wedding celebrations, detectives hunkered together to collect evidence at a crime scene only increase my frenzy. There’s only one thing left. I step outside. Everything’s as it’s always been: blue sky, puffy clouds, spring flowers, chirping birds. No need to impose limits or rules, no reason to shout warnings. I’ve found my forever. It’s right here.

–March 25, 2020


Caroline Goldberg Igra grew up in Philadelphia and lives in Israel. She has a doctorate in art history, was an assistant professor at the University of Haifa,  and has curated exhibitions at the Museum of Art in Ein Harod, and Beit Hatfutsot in Tel Aviv. Her publications include a monograph on the Polish artist J.D. Kirszenbaum, a novel, Count to a Thousand (Mandolin Publishing 2018), and articles in Art History, Ars JudaicaJournal of Visual Arts Practice, The Journal of Architecture, Van Gogh Museum Journal, and Visual Resources. She recently published in Away Journal. She blogs on the expat experience for The Times of Israel.