You’re not in prison when you’re on stage

“The mission of the theatre, after all, is to change, to raise the consciousness of people to their human possibilities.” Arthur Miller Last Saturday, I had the rare privilege of watching a theatre play inside a prison, Hindelbank, close to Bern. During an hour, a packed audience saw seven incarcerated women on stage offer fireworks…

The ‘Art’ of Conferences

For Greta, the noblest one Warning: Politically incorrect, satirical text. Often, when invited to speak at a conference or join a panel, I’ve had the impression that the organizers wanted to add something feminine, preferably nice-looking, in the same way, that you’d add a flower arrangement on a set table, a final touch. A recent incident…

Their Lives

I never thought the pain would be physical Like a hole next to my heart Or is it here, close to the gut? ¿En las entrañas? (I never cared much for anatomy) So many years busy being parents Groceries to buy, forms to fill, meals to cook So much running around We were getting good…

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?

An update to this story, Stauffacher changed the title following my suggestion! Credit where it is due. The picture to the left is from April 2021, the one on the right is from August 2021, go check it out. The shelf labelled “Libros Españoles” holding books in Spanish irritates me. I now challenge the salesperson every…

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…