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, September 12, 2011

Task prior to oblivion (Tarea anterior al olvido)

It doesn’t matter how much 9/11 coverage I watch, it still upsets me to think of how many people were unfairly killed and how many still suffer their loss. Should we just forget? From my Dad’s book Under the shadow (Sombrabajo).

Task prior to oblivion (Tarea anterior al olvido)

I had never understood death so clearly,
its profound meaning of an ending
(except for theology and hope)
like when thanking and paying a fee to
the illiterate who wrote the name of his friend
on the still moist clay that sealed
the ceremony this afternoon.

At the height of the soul
overwhelmed with flowers
the black box was deposited by the relatives
in the borrowed hole
and the man started his task for the day:
mix of lime powder and sand,
brick and manual ability
and certain air of solemn fatigue
when he rubs his sweaty forehead with his thumb.

After the art of writing on the clay
without rhetoric, without a message, an intention, the initials
or the name of the one who stays there,
packed, sealed with wax, also branded,
while time ends up
redeeming the relatives for crying,
replacing grief for memories
and in occasions for the inexorable oblivion.

No comments:

Post a Comment