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).

Friday, May 6, 2011

Mother (Madre)

To all mums on their special weekend, my Dad’s earlier version of his poem Faint but firm shadow (Leve y firme sombra).  Curiously, Mother’s Day in my home town of Cúcuta, just like in Sweden, is on the last Sunday of May.  So mine will have to wait a few more weeks.  From my Dad’s book Poetry (Poesía). 

Mother (Madre)

I remember how our house
had a backyard bursting with sun
and wind.

How simple our lives were.
The warmth of our folks
around the rustic table.

It came after a
gust of violent winds
and these words are only
food for evocation,
synthesis of a faded youth,

Of that destruction
the only survivor
is the weak and heavy
figure of mum.

She talks like
a pious and firm shadow
at our feet.

Mother loved beautiful things
and in everyone of her children she wanted to see
a horizon of unsuspected prodigies.

Her hands sewed wool
and dreams
and always before the first light of dawn
she would be running around the corridors
infecting with plenitude
the budding day.
Beyond twilight,
beyond the night,
from her hands sprouted in lyrical mass
paper flowers and songs.

I never saw her give up
to the monotony
of her daily labour.
Work was for her
a form of prayer.

We all surround her
with the warmest
of affections.
It hurts us
that as time goes by
it steals her from us.

 What keeps us hanging in there
is her way of distracting loneliness,
of enduring old pains,
of extracting, miraculously,
joy and serenity
from her always new heart.


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