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, July 11, 2011

The fleet (La flotilla)

Donkeys have been used throughout history for transportation of supplies, pulling wagons, and, in many cases, as riding animals. During World War I a British stretcher bearer, John Simpson Kirkpatrick, serving with the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps, used a donkey named Duffy to rescue wounded soldiers, carrying them to safety in Gallipoli. There is a statue of John Simpson Kirkpatrick and his donkey in his home town, South Shields.

About 41 million donkeys were reported worldwide in 2006. China had the most with 11 million, followed by Pakistan, Ethiopia and Mexico.

From my Dad’s book Elementary motherland (Patria elemental).

The fleet (La flotilla)

From the Hill of Tonchalá, from Saint Peter
or from Tabiro, the donkeys, my brothers without fatigue
arrive from the South, the North,
from any cardinal point,
with their load of grey brooms or medicinal plants
or various wild flowers, and even with a source of energy:
domestic firewood and coal…Ah, and the pitcher of fresh water
for neighbouring births.

Patios as car parks where they quench their thirst
and get some shade and food,
while the master buys supplies
and starts his way back…behind the exemplary fleet
docile and diligent.

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