Mo’ther (mudh-), n. A female parent.

Translated from Spanish by the author, with precious help from Elizabeth Nash

My mother was neither cradle nor lap

She was a sword, an arrow, an argument

Beautiful, sharp, and feline

Neither refuge nor anchor, my mother was a battle

A storm, not a haven

She was an actress, and her daughters were the audience

At times, I suppose, supporting actresses

She sang a lullaby, of a dead donkey taken away from this miserable world

She was neither here nor there

“In my land…” she would say, to remind us that she was not born in Colombia

My mother had a fierce love for my father,

a love that raged

I loved her and she loved me, with a love as inscrutable as it was true

She was both generous and caustic, a victim and a victimizer

An exquisite hostess

And jealous beast

Cerebral and impulsive

Rebel now, but slave to appearances later

How I tried to decipher her

My mother was the wolf and the grandmother, and at times she was Little Red Riding Hood

At the end of her life she played the good and wise grandmother

A convincing performance, that her daughters watched warily

On her tombstone there is only one name, Myriam de Nogales de Escobar, but resting in her grave are multiple women

To those I remember with love, I sing my longing

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