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, July 19, 2011

María Dianaluz (Mary Diana Light)

                               My sister María Dianaluz and I many many years ago.

My Mum and Dad were very good and quick at starting a family and making it a pretty good size one. They got married on the 11th of October of 1959 and my eldest sister María Dianaluz was born on the 18th of July of 1960; that is nine months and a week later. Fifteen years after that, around the time Nana (that’s what I call her) and my other two sisters (who were born one right after the other, just a year apart) started contemplating moving to the capital to go to university, and my brother was finishing primary school, Mum and Dad felt they were going to end up all alone too soon.  So, to celebrate their 15th anniversary, they decided to go on a holiday to the coast of Colombia and try to conceive another baby. Nine months and a week later, I was born, on my sister’s 16th birthday. Here’s a beautiful poem my Dad wrote to my sister María Dianaluz on her first birthday. From his book Urgent poetry (Poesía de urgencia).

Note: While I translate this poem, my heart fills with gratitude to my sister Nana, who for nine years, since my Dad had the stroke that started all his health problems, was at the forefront of making sure that he had the best possible care he could have. She put my Dad’s needs before hers and often her own family’s and dealt courageously with doctors, specialists, nurses, insurance companies, hospitals, our family business  and Mum. I love you Nanita. Thank you for looking after Mum and Dad and I am truly sorry I couldn’t really help from so far away. I hope you had a very happy 51st birthday.

María Dianaluz (Mary Diana Light)

To my one year old daughter.

We made you
with simple elements,
extremely pure.

Your mother gave you
her integrity,
her tenderness
her virtue
and her inner clarity.

I gave you
my ample way
of laughing,
or loving,
of feeling without measure,
and a little sadness
that does not show yet
in your bright eyes.

When you arrived
– almost at midnight –
I took you in my tremulous arms
and I gave you to the earth
with a name
and a symbol.

María was your first name.

And Dianaluz
because you brought
with you the light
that until then
my eyes had never seen.
And you were also
my first victory.

I felt you closer.
From your cradle
I would stare
at the narrow horizon
of my life without a
precise guiding course.

And it seemed
that next to your cradle,
from my body
sprouted roots
that sank
into the earth.
And that my heart expanded to love
all the children in the world,
all the mothers in the world,
all the men in the world.

your senses
started to awake.
Then I saw you laugh
and expect
the maternal stroke
and your father’s caress.

Your shapes
started emerging.
Just like a little doll
of flesh
of irises.

You became
playfully beautiful.
Strands of blonde hair,
alive bright eyes,
and over them
two brownish lines.
The shape of your mouth
prematurely fruitful.
The skin
white and transparent
and the hands
irrigated by little blue veins.

you stood up
to look at us closer.
And we felt you more woman,
more of our world,
more of the noble clay
we made you of.

Now you call us with clarity
and you formulate words
that my lexicon does not recognise.
But I understand
in the gibberish
of your tongue and your eyes,
that it is essential that I live
to see you live.

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