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).

Monday, April 25, 2011

Christ of the Church of the Calvary of Pamplona (Cristo del Humilladero de Pamplona)

People from Cúcuta (my home town) traditionally travel in Easter Sunday to the nearby municipality of Pamplona, to pray at the Church of the Calvary (La Iglesia del Humilladero de Pamplona).  Up on the hill where the church is you could see the entire town.  I keep fond memories of Mum and Dad taking me there for a day trip.  I also remember always getting car-sick on the way back but Dad’s ‘magic’ watch would always cure me, as long as I kept it on my tummy for the duration of the one hour commute.  I wish I had my Dad’s watch, so I wouldn’t get sick on road trips these days.  From my Dad’s book The celebrated afternoon (La tarde festejada). 

Christ of the Church of the Calvary of Pamplona (Cristo del Humilladero de Pamplona)

In the gray fog
that blurs the sacred city
surges the hill
softly raised,
home of a weary Jesus.

Upstairs, above the atrium,
a tall door, resonant bell tower,
a votive light,
vivid, in front of the of the cibary,
is my beloved Christ’s sanctuary.

Beneath these white towers
the centuries have passed.  The memory
fades in the honest
darkness in history,
and history and legend are its glory.

And about the hanging Cross
the ivory-like hoisted Christ
says with moaning voice
– pallid, stunned –
 Father, why have you abandoned me?

I came to you with the first light of dawn
that penetrates the shadows where you wait
for my early rising voice,
Oh!  The first roses
that bloom with your daily springs!

I have come from afar
(from my backyard of sun and wind and breeze);
your open wounds like mirrors
reproduce my
humble sorrow that your arm fraternises.

I put my existence
in the healing light of your injury
wiser than science,
and in you, who are the Life
that invites my Death to its hideout,
my afflictions of a man
in perpetual battle;
the beautiful futile days without name,
silent sorrows
and the remaining bitterness of my pleasures.

I set vanities aside
so you can hear my pure word,
and in secret
you will hear truths of the bitterness
of a man walking in the dark night.

I would not stop talking to you
for endless days, servile at your feet
and unable to love you,
like a lost lamb
I would not want to hear even your whistle.

From you, I would run away,
and, although my being holds onto your mercy,
fugitive I would hide underground
the affliction that the heart keeps.

And towards the shady night
of my tired years
to you I would climb
crawling – steps and stairs –
offering of my disappointments!

Then the ashes,
under your omniscience transformed,
I would lift myself without hurry
freed from my own being
forgiven by your compassion!

Pamplona 1986

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