Cuando tu apellido es Escobar

Me volvió a suceder ayer. Me habían invitado a dar una conferencia sobre gestión de impactos en una escuela de negocios de Ginebra (Suiza), donde vivo. Tras la sesión, uno de los estudiantes se acercó a mí y, con una sonrisa pícara, me preguntó si era pariente de Pablo Escobar. “Vuelve y juega”, pensé. En…

When your name is Escobar

It happened again yesterday. I had been invited to give a lecture on Impact Management at a business school in Geneva, Switzerland, where I live. After the session, one of the students approached me and, with a roguish smile, asked me if I was related to Pablo Escobar. “Here we go again,” I thought. In…

The Accidental Advocate

Note: This essay was first published in Keeping It Under Wraps, an Anthology edited by Louise Bryant, Tracy Hope and Alnaaze Nathoo (2021) For Camille Another massage session with Li Hua is over. I feel relaxed, oxygenated, content. I’ve been coming here for years now. Pear blossom is the meaning of her name. This fine, middle-aged woman…

In Nature, Everything is Connected

Confessions of a voyeuse I bike away from cars, buildings, cement Into nature I crave the connection, the experience of the spiritual I sit, camouflaged, surrounded only by trees, birds and minuscule species Ready to tune in to the energetic, the primal current, the breathing earth No human voice, just the distant sound of water,…

Un círculo

No se conocen. Están sentadas alrededor de una mesa sobre la cual hay quesos, pan, aceitunas y atún para untar. Nadie toca la comida. La luz es cálida, no hay música; sería una distracción. Once mujeres de diferentes edades, colores, tamaños, orígenes, ocupaciones, caracteres. Tienen una cosa en común. Todas han sido víctimas de acoso…

Las justas

Una variación sobre un poema de Borges (Los justos) Una mujer que labra la tierra, como lo hiciera su madre. La que compone un poema bajo la luz de la luna, mientras amamanta un niño. La que reconoce y nombra el dolor del otro. Dos mujeres que acompañan un enfermo en su lecho de muerte….

Dear Sylvia,

Yesterday, while browsing in a bookstore in Bern, I stumbled upon the letter you wrote to your psychiatrist on February 4, 1963. I heard the voice of a clinically depressed, sensitive artist, and mother, making a colossal effort to keep her head above water. “I write from London where I have found a flat &…

Spanish books or Books in Spanish?

The shelf labelled “Libros Españoles” holding books in Spanish irritates me. I now challenge the salesperson every time I see it. “Excuse me, would you place Friederich Dürrenmatt, Max Frisch, and other Swiss authors under “German Books”? I asked the salesman at Stauffacher in Bern yesterday. He looked puzzled, so I tried to explain, “You…

Laisse-moi te dire de vive-voix

A côté d’un “passe-moi le sel” Et un “on doit emmener la voiture au garage” Laisse-moi te dire Que tu m’as rendu heureuse toutes ces années. Avant qu’un éclair ne mette fin à nos vies Laisse-moi te dire à l’oreille que j’aime tes bras. Que tu es un mât auquel je m’accroche. Moi, oiseux libre,…

While we’re still here

Along with “pass me the salt” And “we have to take the car to the garage” Let me just say, You’ve made me happy all these years Before lightning ends your life or mine Let me whisper in your ear That I crave your embrace That you’re the mast I gladly cling to I, an…

Losing the EU one “e” at a Time:

“Madame, you will not be able to board the flight, your COVID test is in German,” the Swiss airline employee told my daughter at the gate in Zurich airport, as she prepared to fly home to London. “Excuse me? It says “Negativ,” just add the “e” and you’ll turn it into English.” “No, Madame, we’re…

Name it

Six men and one woman sit around a large mahogany table at the Colombian Embassy in Brussels. At the head of the table, the Ambassador, a man in his early thirties, smoking and smiling with the other men. The woman looks down at her large belly, she will soon deliver a child. The men’s laughter…

Violeta

Ya nadie mas se sentará en el Eames lounge chair A todos les quedará grande Solo ella, con su mirada ancestral, podía presidir desde allí, observando impávida el ir y venir de vidas agitadas Podría uno confundir su actitud con soberbia Pero no, era la sabiduría de quien está de vuelta de todo y calla…

The Visionary

He said there’d be a bar

He saw the glittering glasses, the single malt whiskey bottles

He probably heard the guests’ laughter

We looked around the room