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 5, 2011

The river (El río)

The Pamplonita River is the main river of the Colombian city of Cúcuta. It was used to transport cacao, the main form of wealth in the region and a major axis of the economy during the 18th and 19th centuries. It begins 3,000 meters above sea level in the hill of Altogrande near the city of Pamplona and descends by the Valley of the Cariongo, heading northwest toward Chinácota.  When it hits the Valley of Cúcuta it is joined with the Táchira River, connecting to the mighty Zulia river and ending on the Lake of Maracaibo in Venezuela. Nowadays Amigos del Río (River Friends) in Cúcuta work to improve the river’s cleanliness. From my Dad’s book Elementary motherland (Patria elemental).

The river (El río)

The harsh sun of midday finds it
and transforms it into a thread
of shining water.

The breeze comes out in the afternoon.
A fan of refreshing air sweeps the muggy heat
off the streets and avenues.

The slow humming pace of the river
can be perceived at night. Other times
it sounds like a threatening deaf avenue.

But yet it remains there under the trees
just like before: loyal, humble, its banks full of stories,
nostalgic of old river-beds…and under the midday sun
like a travelling thread of light.

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