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).

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Valley of Cúcuta 2 (Valle de Cúcuta 2)

From Wikipedia (pretty accurate actually):

FACT: Cúcuta's streets are organised in a grid layout adopted from Spain in colonial times. Calles (streets) go from east to west, perpendicular to the hills, and numbering increases to the north and to the south from Calle 1. Avenidas (avenues) go from south to north, parallel to the hills, and numbering increases both east to west, and west to east from a central avenida numbered 0 (Avenida Cero, one of the city's most important avenues). From west to east, avenues are numbered with an E added to their number, as to denote East (este).

FACT: Colombia signed a Free Trade Agreement with the United States amidst opposition by Venezuela. Despite this opposition, industries from Venezuela are constructing their infrastructure in Cúcuta to export their products to the United States, registering their products as if they were Colombian, a strategy that would allow them to export without paying certain taxes. For that reason, Cúcuta is a highly industrial city.

From my Dad’s book The celebrated afternoon (La tarde festejada).

Valley of Cúcuta 2 (Valle de Cúcuta 2)

You will find the same grey trees
in our childhood neighbourhood
and you will hear the musical score 
of the love that did not stop
with your long absence.

Here time does not pass. The same drowsiness
of the midsummer heat, the quiet river,
the city with an immense leather surface in the sun,
where the greediness of the country concur,
the shade of the streets oppressed
between shops and knick-knacks.

Every now and then we peep at the perpetual blue
and in the afternoon we become diffused in the sun
of the deer that graze on the protecting hills.
We know that every day it is possible to find death on a corner
and we celebrate full of joy
every nightfall that surprises us in the intimacy
of the woman, the children and things…
and amidst everything
we continue to love the estate.

Give us a red horse and an black one
with a golden arrow on the forehead
similar to our flag,
one that starts galloping toward the light.

To Elenita Olivares
and Sassu.

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