David Bodlak

1936-2010

"El agua hablará," altar in honor of David Bodlak

"El agua hablará" is an exploration of the idea that death is a process and not a single moment in time. During the last weeks of my father's life he began to share his memories with us. He did so in chronological order, subconsciously starting with his most recent memories and working backwards in time. Once he told us about his childhood, he became silent and finally passed away. 

My father was an artist and, as I do, he loved finding and highlighting images in wet-on-wet paint backgrounds. I used the same technique, but with watery finger-paint for children and basic charcoal to illustrate the different anecdotes that came to his mind as he faded. The water marks guided me, and I found hidden images in each panel. There are 16 panels, each accompanied by a Haiku poem. Haikus were important to my father. He used this poetic form of expression to ritualistically record and celebrate profound thoughts and events.

Shortly before my father passed away, my mother asked him how he would communicate with her, if he could. He said: "Through water." Since then, every raindrop, leak, river, the ocean, every tear reminds us he is with us.

"El agua hablará" was included in the 2011 Día de los Muertos exhibition titled Death in Parallel at Mission Cultural Center in San Francisco.

My memories poured out,

Each more distant than the last,

Until I was gone.

Vertí memorias,

Cada vez más lejanas,

Hasta que me fui.

Piñata in the sun,

Family, grandchildren, play,

One last time for me.

Piñata en el sol,

Familia, nietos, juegan,

Una más, por mí.

Stories of Goya,

Lectures of antiquities,

Cancer won't listen.

Cuentos de Goya,

Charlas de antigüedades,

Cáncer no escucha.

A quiet corner,

Guitars, violin and dance,

A common passion.

Lugar tranquilo,

Guitarras, violín, baile,

Pasión en común.

My creature comforts:

Television and ice cream.

Vices had to go.

Pequeños lujos:

Televisión, helado.

Los vicios ya no.

Art treasures being bombed,

Cries ignored by blind leaders,

I paint or I die.

Bombardean arte,

Ignoran las lágrimas,

Pinto o me muero.

Bull and bullfighter,

Bloody mortal spectacle,

Imitating life.

Toro, torero,

Espectáculo mortal,

Como la vida.

Guitarist in Spain,

Accompanying the voice of pain.

Play, foreigner, play!

Guitarra, España,

Acompañando al dolor.

¡Toca, extranjero!

When they were little,

My girls both danced on the beach;

An eternal dance.

Cuando eran chicas,

Mis niñas en la playa;

Un baile eterno.

The love of my life;

She understood my passions.

Together in Spain.

Mi amor, mi vida;

Comprendía mis pasiones.

Juntos en España.

Drawing to painting,

Cigarette, a pipe, cigar,

Going from calf to bull.

Dibujar, pintar,

Cigarro, pipa, puro,

Novillo a toro.

Clay animation,

The owl impersonation,

They grow so quickly.

Su plastilina,

La imitación del búho,

Crecen rápido.

Contour of a thigh,

A cigarette, one more wine,

Is this all there is?

Muslo de mujer,

Cigarrillo, más vino,

¿Y no hay nada más?

Friends competed, played,

Had waterskiing adventures.

Now, we sit and talk.

Competir, jugar,

Juntos, esquí acuático.

Ahora, charlar.

A horse on the sand,

A long walk by the ocean.

Things aren't so simple.

Caballo, arena,

Un paseo por la orilla.

Ya no es tan simple.

I imagined them,

Natives living in nature.

I felt at one then.

Imaginaba,

Indios, naturaleza,

​Éramos uno.

My dog, my old friend,

Running towards me through flowers,

If heaven exists.

Can, viejo amigo,

Entre flores corriendo,

Si existe el cielo.

How can I convey,

Where I am, if I'm OK?

Water drops will say.

¿Cómo te diré,

Dónde estoy o si estoy bien?

El agua hablará.

To learn more about MCCLA click here.

Click here to read MCCLA's description of this event.

© 2017 by MARA LEA BROWN