This article is taken from Stand 233, 20(1) March - May 2022.

Deborah Freeman The Emissary
You`re waiting in International Departures. You’re flying British Airways to Tel Aviv. To your left, a young Israeli woman, a purple scarf turbaned around her forehead. To your right, a black-coated clergyman sits benignly, a cross on a silver chain around his neck. Yards away a group of youngsters pose for photographs, popping cans of Coca-Cola.   

We’d met for lunch, you and I at the art museum. After exchanging pleasantries we talked about some of the exhibits. We admired a collage of congealed semolina and pistachio nuts. The slits in the nuts were like mouths in tiny faces and made me smile. Over coffee, I told you I was going to Israel to visit my parents, but at this particular time was not that keen to go.

‘Send me,’ you said. ‘Your emissary.’ You added, ‘I could do with a week away.’


The plane cuts heavenward through clouds. From your window seat you look past the smooth wing to grey slices and green patches of England.

You’re starting your journey among a group of Born Again Welshwomen. They offer you love and mints. Across the aisle is an Orthodox Jewish couple. The mother is less than twenty. The baby on her lap gurgles. Her dress hangs down over knee-high boots, and a scarf covers her hair. The husband wears a black suit and black hat, in the style of urban Poland, nineteenth century.

The mother opens her high dress, exposing the nipple of the breast you can`t see, and puts her ...
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