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, August 29, 2011

Poem of the fugitive joys - Part 1 (Poema de los júbilos fugaces - Primera parte)

Last week I reached a personal milestone, 170 of my Dad’s poems translated. Now, the interesting bit is that as I continue to re-examine his literary work I learn more of my Dad’s little tricks. For example, his reuse of a poem to celebrate a special occasion, changing a few lines or ‘recycling’ a paragraph, and sometimes even just changing the title. Anyway, each artist has their tricks. The problem is that I am getting nervous with the prospect of ‘running out’ of poems before the end of the year. So, tonight I’m going to try something new. Some of the remaining poems are originally up to five pages long. Using my own creative license I am going to translate them and publish them in parts, keeping the reader’s interest with some suspense, whilst economising poems and hopefully stretching my blogging mission until December 31st.

From my Dad’s book Urgent poetry (Poesía de urgencia).

Poem of the fugitive joys - Part 1 (Poema de los júbilos fugaces - Primera parte)

I will repeat the trivial words
that lovers always say to each other
in the beautiful early days.
Let us live without hesitations
the vanity of loving each other in secret.
The eternity of the clandestine hours,
possessing each other like a discovery
in the daily devotion
and that belief that everything is indeed true.
The fraternal lie
of forgetting each other forever.

The senses used to hit you
fighting for the touch of your skin
made of a fine peachy dust
and the heat of summer.
More than tenderness you had a warm scent
of unripe woman
and life burned in your arms.

I used to stop on the edge of your tenderness
to see you exercise your profession
of being a woman.
You used to share your little ones’ dolls
and the school homework.
You would understand without difficulty
the mumble of their arguments
and when a discovery got mixed in their questions
one could hear the wisdom
of your erudite and ingenious answers.

Invisible passenger, partner
in this jelly-like day, grey.
The hills pass by our side,
the trees, the river, the shadow green,
accomplices that know the destination
of our swift and triumphant course.
Not a single word nor why or where
just like if everything had been tailor made to
the measurement of our excitement.
The road finally comes to an end
and we are the owners of a small world
under the intimacy that surrounds us.
Back on the road, now on the way back.
And the gap that you filled so many times,
invisible passenger, partner
in this jelly-like day, grey.

Time left me a little of your life
and it is possible
to still feel you. I built you my own way.
I made you my refuge, trust.
I used to drown in you
to forget the ordinary hours
and there was the feeling
of having you and losing you
that muddled the certainty
of being with you.

I do not know what you used to say
to the icons that you used to light up with candles
in days in which your love was very mine.
Your piety was preceded by your surrender
that used to leave in you a deeper footprint.
Or we would return from love to the quiet enclosure
that used to listen your glories and your worries
about your distant relatives and your daughters,
you used to repeat the discontinued version
of old prayers and suddenly
you would drown in a long silence.
Until I would take your hand
and one of your kisses would transmit to my lips
the secret that I will never know
told under the diffuse light of the glass
of large windows of fastidious angels. 

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