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 4, 2011

Sagacious alchemist (Pocimera ladina)

A cry for help.  As a child I couldn’t hear my Dad’s cry for help.  All I saw was a big, strong, smiley, wise and generous man, who knew everything and what to do.  Someone who was respected by his peers, students and employees, loved by his wife and kids, feared by criminals.  It is only now, decades later, after life has given me plenty of opportunities to experience some of the feelings he portrays in his poetry, that I understand him.  I wish I could have done something to ease his pain, I wish I knew exactly what pained him, I wish he had told me.  From Dad’s book The celebrated afternoon (La tarde festejada). 

Sagacious alchemist (Pocimera ladina)
Once upon a time
you possessed me, Depression,
you were the mistress of my joy,
tyrant of my freedom,
of my fears.

You left
and I thought
it would be forever,
but you tend to come back
in multiple disguises;
you jump like a spark
in the imagination
and you colonise me again.
You enter me without making a fuss,
sagacious alchemist witch.

You arrive unexpectedly.  I feel you
in my unsociable mood,
in my silence, in the voids
that materialise in my world.

I feel the blood freeze;
and an indescribable pain
runs through the arteries
of my brain, through all the
veins that irrigate me, and descends
down the spine, descends;
an icy river drowns
my being and hits all my bones.
Go away Depression,
despicable and deceitful shadow.
Do not touch my faith, let me
believe that with the morning sun
you will leave me.

My bones and my soul
and my spirit will return
to that point where I left
the joy of living, the reason
for living.  And I will breathe again
the merciful air
of God.

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