Nobel Prize-winning author and former ICORN resident Svetlana Alexievich visited Cornell University in September to present a moving lecture on her work. ICOA board members hosted a breakfast for Ms. Alexievich.
ICOA Board Member Barbara Adams and Svetlana Alexievich
This railroad has not been used for years. The solid rails rusted, just like your lifetime is eroded by wind and storms. The rails lie peacefully on the road bed, winding to a remote place.
There is an abandoned factory on the hill. The collapsed wall and shaft are immersed in the light of sunset. The wild weeds silence the noise of the past.
A girl is walking alone, far away along the rails. You can see her back, her short, dark brown skirt. Wind blows her long, black hair to her right shoulder. Her long, slim legs and neck remind you of your youth, the first sweetheart you had.
Twilight is so quiet flowing from the trees; the lake shines; the duck calls in a husky voice.
The girl keeps walking until she disappears from your sight.
This moment becomes forever, as if it contains all days and nights of your life.
* * *
“Dusk, the Girl, the Antiquated Railway” is the third of three new poems by Yi Ping written on the occasion of Ithaca City of Asylum’s fifteenth anniversary.
The red fox’s body is lying in the road. Wind blows its red fur, its fluffy tail, as vivid as if it were still alive. The sky, the wood, and meandering road are quiet as usual. May light is splendid as gold. It only took a second. The fox was killed, bloodied, and the pavement around its body was printed in red.
Such a pretty fire fox, alert and smart, bright as a flame in green woods. It only took a second—she died. No vehicle stopped. She was a creature, alive. She had a family. Cubs are waiting for her return.
* * *
“Red fox” is the second of three new poems by Yi Ping written on the occasion of Ithaca City of Asylum’s fifteenth anniversary.
Far away, always far away. Your hometown—you’ll use your whole life but you can’t reach it. Clouds flow with water; you surrender all longing to the sky.
Soil floats in the air above the earth, just like a mother’s love is left behind. There is nothing back home but ash lightly fluttering on the ruins. You no longer look into the distance. What comes from home is always worse than you expect.
Good wishes are as precious as water—hand them to the one you love beside you.
* * *
“Afar” is the first of three new poems by Yi Ping written on the occasion of Ithaca City of Asylum’s fifteenth anniversary.
In honor of ICOA’s 15th anniversary, the Tompkins County Public Library and Olin Library at Cornell University will both feature exhibits about the organization’s history. Running from September 15 through October 15, each exhibit features images, writing, and historical materials. To commemorate Banned Books Week, Raza Rumi will present a reading titled “(A)Live and Kicking: Navigating Dissent in Pakistan’s Mediascape” at 4:30 pm on Wednesday, September 28 in 107 Olin Library.