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 11, 2011

To a woman in the Gospel (A una mujer en el evangelio)

Many saw my father as a strong minded, extroverted and possibly intimidating lawyer and business man, always upright, always pristine in a full suit and matching tie.  I was possibly the only one who used to say to him: “If we are only discussing this and not arguing about it why is your voice so loud right now, turn it down a notch dad!”

Here is a different and vulnerable side of him, a little boy who needed comfort and that original love and understanding that only his mother could provide.  From his book The celebrated afternoon(La tarde festejada). 

Note: Nicolás was my grandmother’s brother.

To a woman in the Gospel (A una mujer en el evangelio)

You return from the Death
and you still keep a little joy
in your smile
that is now sad.
I believe that through your dull eyes
and with the breeze of time
you managed to have a glimpse of Paradise.
There you must have a place
among the angels.

You battled!  With the fervour
of always,
with the courage that branded your life
of a strong woman,
with the decision with which you
opened doors, without permission,
for you and your children,
dominator of hard times
and humble in prosperity.

Here they are, waiting for you,
your mandolin, your guitar
and the ukulele that remembers
the romantic look in
Nicolás’ eyes, singing the songs
he used to sing to get rid of
his nostalgias.

And here I am, mother
to tell you from the hill
of so many years that have passed
(which allow me to take a glimpse
at yours and see them closely)
that now I am more of a child
than the one you knew,
because everything that time
gathered around me
I have lost irreparably,
and little by little I end up more and more lonely,
abandoned and lonely
and falsely upright
like the trees
rotten inside
in the inclemency of the nights
and the freezing days.

How you now fill the empty spaces
of my soul!
I would have never said
these words to you
if so many things had not happened
and had made me feel
the urgent necessity of your presence,
it does not matter, mother,
your presence is like a soft light
in a comfortable corner
of the house.

You must know, that is your job:
to light up, to glow,
and to warm up the freezing air
that penetrates
the bones
when the inner lights
have started,
mother, to extinguish.

Surely one day
you will have to attend to the voices
that call you from above.
Nobody will be able to oppose, it is true,
but it is possible that by then
I am the one who opens the door for you
and welcomes you with tenderness,
and share with you
your stories,
your music,
your beautiful songs
that never went out of fashion,
and help you, mother,
in the craft
of the bobbin
and the felt dolls
and all those beautiful things
that come out
of your hands.

Do not worry mother.
You are complete,
because the light that illuminates the tower
from which you watch me,
today more than ever lights up
the path that my
hesitant steps travel…
mother, be patient with me,
today I feel more like a child,
let me talk to you like this,
and try to come with me
and to forgive me and to bless me…
and share with my melancholy
your smile, mother,
that is now sad.

To my sisters
Herminia and Consuelo.

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