Why do this?

My father, José Luis Villamizar Melo, passed away in my home town of Cúcuta, Colombia, in August last year. The law and economics were Dad's profession, but literature, history and academia his passion. He wrote and published several books, articles and book chapters. The thing is that so many people have missed out on his work, particularly on his beautiful poetry, which he wrote in Spanish prior to the world wide web. So I thought, what a better way to keep Dad's legacy alive than to bring his writing beyond his world and share it with mine. That is why I am translating over 250 of my Dad's poems to English and publishing them here, one a day, Monday to Friday during 2011 (Dad, a family man, always believed that you shouldn't work on weekends).

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Almost, almost forgotten (Casi, casi en el olvido)

Tonight’s poem is about my auntie Rosa América.  I don’t know much about her.  Just that she died in a car (or motorcycle?) accident when my mum, her baby sister, was a teenager.  I always thought Dad had a thing for her before he fell in love with my mother.  Who knows.  From my Dad’s book Under the shadow (Sombrabajo). 

Almost, almost forgotten (Casi, casi en el olvido)
Almost, almost oblivion starts to bore her through.
My memory places her on the sixth floor
of that building where I saw her peek her head out the window
for the last time
greeting me, waving her hand up high.
And I reconstruct her in her small town,
in a house with big windows and a solitary courtyard
where flowers lived like sisters.

In the sound of her conversation
there was no plenitude: her pleasing words were sobs,
the intention of making others happy.
She wanted to be herself, candid, fulfilled,
because nobody suffered loneliness like she did
when death destroyed what her world was
including a father full of dignity and anger
and a mother with her rosary and her daughters on her back.

She remembered her loved ones one by one
and there was no resentment in her words, just joy.
She revised the days and the portraits
and perhaps she foresaw the twilight
in the calm of her heart, docile and simple.

She did not know about her trip back home.  We returned her
to her folks’ backyard in our arms.
Out of vanity we had her face reconstructed
and we kept it in a box of hard wood
that travelled fifteen hours to lie with us.

Then she settled permanently in her town,
with her own, resting with those
who preceded her.

Every now and then
we bring flowers and prayers
but also faith
of the same faith that she embraced
as refuge for her distance,
for her happiness surrounded by silence,
for the happiness that she never found completely.

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