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, June 21, 2011

The stone of the Galembo (Piedra del Galembo)

A short history lesson. The Thousand Days War (1899–1902) (Guerra de los Mil Días), was a civil armed conflict in the newly created Republic of Colombia, (including the then province of Panama) between the Conservative and Liberal political parties. In 1899 the ruling conservatives were accused of maintaining power through fraudulent elections. The Siege of Cúcuta, which took place on the 11th of July, 1900, was a milestone clash within this war. The Stone of the Galembo (Piedra del Galembo) was a strategic point of communication with Venezuela in the city of Cúcuta. From this point, General Juan Francisco Urdaneta operated his cannons and battalion. From my Dad’s book Elementary motherland (Patria elemental).

The stone of the Galembo (Piedra del Galembo)

That is what the legend called it.

Who placed this stone,
closest to the most direct sun,
on the edge of the hill that divides the valley?

At the same height of the column
of heroism that rises up in tribute to Padilla?

From up there one can see
the bountiful forest of the city
that expands over the land of the Juanes.
And also, on the other side,
filthy alleys and erosion and poverty are together.

It seems like the protecting gods
put it there so that colonel Bolívar
could use it as a trench at the dawn of freedom.

Yet the stone does not exist anymore.
The only thing left is its place.
Like so many things that were and now are only legends.

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