Queen's Quarterly

Queen's Quarterly
Queen's Quarterly

As Much as You Know

Anna Yin

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.


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.