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).

Friday, September 2, 2011

The house belonged to my father (La casa era de mi padre)

I’m not sure if this poem has prompted a very distant memory or if my mind is playing tricks on me. Anyway, I think Dad managed to rebuild my grandfather’s old house for my grandma. I also fear that he had to sell it during times of recession in Colombia.

Tonight, as we approach Father’s Day weekend I want to dedicate this poem to my Dad. His poetry is the old house that I am rebuilding, in a language that he never learnt, not with my bare hands like grandpa did but with all the love I can give, a good online Spanish-English dictionary and my faith that his creation won’t get lost in translation.

Happy Father’s Day to all my friends with children out there!

From my Dad’s book Twilight theory (Teoría del crepúsculo).

The house belonged to my father (La casa era de mi padre)

With how much love I rebuilt the house
that my father raised with his own hands
surrounded by green birds
and an oblique sun over the terrace.

Paternal reference, today the siblings
know for sure that life goes by
when only memories of distant days
warm us up with their poor flame.

A patio with a burning sun. Midday
among wild flowers. Melody
of domestic golden robins.
And the parade of swallows,
noisy friends, the neighbours
of the last light of the afternoon.

Small town house, farm house,
white and pink and ash-coloured roof tiles.
Under rustic roofs the legend
shines through, the kindness of its ruin.

Memories, remembrances in the fine anecdote
of the old man who tells it,
feed their noble ghosts
fleeting shadow at the vespertine hour.

Against my heart I cut short the determination
of so many years chasing a dream,
reality that disperses itself.

The house belonged to my father and I do not forget it.
I had owned it with love and now I have lost it
but my father grows in my memories.

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