Wednesday 5 May 2021

5 Poems by Anna Yin


—to Qu Yuan

In no time summer solstice has arrived;
in a trance the Dragon Boat Festival follows.
My heart is wrapped by leaves of reeds,
unfolding then closing—
bittersweet and salt-sweat,
mixed flavors spread and spin.

Neither the rolling Yellow River
nor the green Miluo River appears;
in my dream, the craving and craved shadow
accompanies me all the way till dawn.

On my window, raindrops keep tapping;
whispers from winds heard far and near—
I ask how many verses could
survive erasure and sing eternally,
and how high waves could rise
after another drowning…

I see Wuchang fish fly
in the reflection of April willows,
tails white as snow
flashing like knives.

note: this poem won the first place for 3th Brooklin Poetry Annual Contest in 2020 August

The Woman within Her House

Around the doorway, you wander,
breathe in two languages.

Remembrance is a house
with front and back yards.

You want to add more windows.

Not for increasing its value,
nor to make it pretty.
Just because you live there.

The wind swings the door open—

shadows float in moonlight.

Someday you’ll get tired
and list the house for sale.

But somewhere else, behind a door,
whispers imitate languages.

Nobody knows where you have been—

the rain is like a curtain,
your face veiled.

note: this won second place for 12th Mattia Family International Poetry Contest in 2008


On our bed
we lie like flatfish.

Outside, stars grow older.

The moon, a white cocoon,
casts its image on the river.

In sparse shadows
a willow dangles.

Along the thorn fences
raspberries bleed.

They remember
once being the fire
drawing the moth
flapping its wings
to flames of love.

note: first appeared on Cha Magazine and it was nominated for Pushcart Prize in 2009

Still Life

A painting of fruit hangs
on the wall of our living room.
Morning sun seldom comes here.
Moon offers a drowsy face.

Awake at midnight,
I find my silhouette drifting
on the waiting apples.

I mourn for them,
no better than their succulence on a kitchen plate—
Either they face the knife
or wait to decay.

note: first appeared in Wings Toward Sunlight (Mosaic Press 2011) and was selected for Poetry in Transit – 2013-2014 and showcased on busses across Canada

My Father's Temple

When my father rebuilt his house,
on each stair he carved
his and my mother's names.
My father is not a superstitious or rich man,
with all of us grown up and living far away,
his narrow tall four-floor building
rose with our criticisms of its waste.
My father rolled his eyeballs, broke his silence:
“Find your own floor and stay longer.”
He winked at us,
“At least none would buy.”

My father's wisdom was defeated by the city plan.
Officers came along with bulldozers and demanded he leave.
My father climbed up to the roof, and refused to move.
Holding his camera, my father shot his last photo
among the knocked down neighborhood.

I received a copy of the photo in the local newspaper.
My father looked so small on the top of the ruins,
It was titled, “The Last Temple.”

note: first appeared in Seven Nights with the Chinese Zodiac (Black Moss Press 2015) and selected by the 7th Parliamentary Poet Laureate George Elliott Clarke as the poem of Sept, 2017 at The Parliamentary Poet Laureate site


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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