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).

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

On crosses (De Crucibus)

Dad had a unique approach to Faith.  He believed in a Supreme Being, regardless of religion.  It was interesting to see him on a Sunday running around to walk my Mum down to our local catholic church and then later on joining his best friend, a Christian pastor at his Sunday Service.  From my Dad’s book Under the shadow (Sombrabajo). 

On crosses (De Crucibus)

I talk about my cross and His cross.

Mine is rough and humiliating, not sublime like His.
Made of hard sticks, without sap nor bark,
without fertilisers or roots with prophetic depth,
oh the tragic contrast of mine and His bursting with light
that my profane eyes do not see.  It hangs in front of me
like the flag from the triumphant battle, flaming, flying,
symbol of freedom or death.

The man nailed there, fixed, smeared with
mod and blood, could, just like the vespertine afternoon,
remove the elements, transform water, fire, air
and sun, or, just like at the last supper table, penetrate,
folded in silence, the horrid depth of the human heart.

The Cross unfolds its horizontal stick-axis
like loving wings cross the vertical support just like when
my hand crosses out a word from the paper with a poem.  And I find it
here, in this quiet gallery, like in other places,
surrounded by light, shadows and moaning and solemn voices.

I recall seeing it before.  The antique stained-glass windows
reproduced godly faces made of stone.  The images were melted on the lit wax-walls.
The walls were decorated with stickers.  The shadows were mistaken up above.
And down below, under the artificial lights,
between candles and offerings of the coal-man’s faith,
other shadows, men kneeling down,
praying or maybe cursing, their face in their hands,
each carrying a cross like mine,
at this hour.

What a memorable evening beside Your Cross.
I am here, looking at you, profane, matching the burden
that men gave you, with mine, simple and light, infertile,
therefore just mine.

I am not alone.  Besides mine there are thousands of crosses
that inhabit the roads that travel this way, gravity
travelling toward the Cross erected under the church’s nave.
Following the destiny of the beaches, what would have been
a dam, canal or inlet, turns into a versatile bastion
hit equally by the noble wave and the sun and the
fleshing breeze, the dregs from the river-bed, the amorphous detritus,
in a constant and renewed  promiscuity of miseries.

Each and everyone speaking here in their own language,
that ‘yes, of course’, exempted from hypocritical turns, giving themselves
completely to Your silence and imploring Your divine and merciful compassion.

No comments:

Post a Comment