Anna Yin – Unmasked

Anna Yin LE P&W March 2023

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Live Encounters Poetry & Writing March 2023

Unmasked, poems by Anna Yin.


After face covers become popular,
party hats also become necessary.
Different colors, dissimilar styles,
red or blue, white or black,
high or low, left or right,
on then off, off then on,
as long as you speak—
out of your own choice,
fervent hands force them upon you.

Across WeChat, TikTok, Twitter and Facebook,
arguments and disputes like mad viruses
take over locally and globally, day and night:
Chinese medicines vs. western treatment,
whistle blowers and open-firing critics,
number games and diplomas sparring,
this world turns ridiculously ugly and rowdy.

You retreat to the quiet corner of
your frugal literary Frigate,
removing all covers and hats.
Turning on a light,
you trace a Page
of prancing Poetry.
Taking that traverse,
no mask smothering,
no hat confining, you find
a world of greenness—
spring is lonely there
yet clean and authentic.

Note: words in italics are from There is no Frigate like a Book by Emily Dickinson

Pearl Earrings

The news arrives with your teardrop
pearl earrings. Shocked, I clutch them,
and stumble out to the trail behind my house.

The fallen leaves under my feet
crackle and crunch.
Birds, rabbits, and squirrels
retreat into bushes—
refuge from winter’s piercing cold.

Late stage, the hospital stated
then sent you off to wane.

The sky darkens,
my shadow deepens.

Mom weeps, pleading with me not
to exaggerate Poetry’s healing outcome;
but I cannot help penning poems
with the moon waxing and waning.

How could we let go of our long catalogue:
sunlight, flowers, beaches, birds, dew, rain
and moons—snow moon—pink moon—harvest moon,
teardrop pearl earrings?

Sister, after the winter,
what can we leave behind?
What can and what will
leave us?

© Anna Yin

Anna Yin was born in China and immigrated to Canada in 1999.  She was Mississauga’s Inaugural Poet Laureate (2015-17) and Ontario representative for the League of Canadian Poets (2013-16). She has authored five poetry collections and one collection of translations:  Mirrors and Windows (Guernica Editions 2021). Anna won the 2005 Ted Plantos Memorial Award, two MARTYs, two scholarships from USA and grants from Ontario Arts Council and Canada Council for the Arts. Her poems/translations have appeared at Queen’s Quarterly, ARC Poetry, New York Times, China Daily, CBC Radio, Literary Review of Canada etc. She read on Parliament Hill, at Austin International Poetry Festival, Edmonton Poetry Festival and universities in China, Canada and USA etc. She has designed and taught Poetry Alive educational programs since 2011 along with her daily IT job.  In 2020, she started her own small press: for her translating, editing and publishing services.

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