As Much as You Know by Anna Yin

As Much as You Know
by Anna Yin

How many gray Saturdays did I cross
under the marquee seeking solace,
always met with a gust of carnival gold
From the diary of Anne Frank, 
you remember few names but long hiding days, muffled
silence, ghostly shades, 
suppressed within walls. 
At the age of fifteen, dates abruptly ended – 
such a brief witness … 

On the journey of Anna Karenina, 
you foretell – name was doomed. 
Beauty, brain and grace could not offset 
the hierarchy of a husband’s family name … 
Name – a subject to fame 
overshadowed saneness. 

With Queen Anne’s life, 
you grasp name as the lost glory, 
beheaded by power swings. 
The victim, the sinner and the witch … 
all in one, darkened the Tower of London. 

Through Anna Akhmatova’s voices, 
you catch names exiled into deserts: 
desert of despair, desert of cruelty, desert of humanity …
Names were pain, betrayers’ baits, 
dictators’ game cards … 
name misplaced in her beloved country.

Now you choose “Anna” as your name – 
an angel with a broken wing. 
When evils cloak the sky, 
you neither pray for God’s mercy, 
nor ask for Mary’s grace. 
Instead, you seek poetry 
as the soaring wings.

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Anna Yin was Mississauga’s Inaugural Poet Laureate (2015–2017) and has authored five collections of poetry. Her sixth book, Mirrors and Windows, will be published by Guernica Editions in 2021. Her poems and translations have appeared in ARC Poetry Magazine, the New York Times, China Daily, World Journal, and on CBC Radio. She has won several poetry awards and teaches Poetry Alive.

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