The Boxer Rebellion (ca. 1899-1900)

i.
Under a canopy of Palownia and poplar trees
the manicured French Gujiaxai Park meanders
through hectares of pink peonies
quietude through the sound of a gurgling waterfall
and the humming of voices of aging locals playing
majong by the side of a pond on a day of rest.

ii.
In the city centre, the food stalls and coffee shops
litter sidewalks and streets, culinary retreats
with noodles and buns cooking, its plume of steam rises
— Celestial offerings
while the din of slurping and metal chopsticks clinking
against bowls could be heard as palates joust infinite flavors
nourishing spirits and bodies in preparation for a day’s hard work.

iii.
At the city’s gate, the thunder roars as Yihequan or Boxer rebels move like swarms, peasants exchanging their sickles for the sword
wielding “righteous fists” and blades to express what they deplore
unequal treaties applied against their country
from cross-wielding white barbarians from yonder shores

iv.
The time has come for the foreigners to know
who’s the master of Chung Kuo though
invincible, fearless they thought they were
backed by the Empress Dowager
they charge onward in the north towards
their divine destiny heralding a new era of
the Second Millennium for a country now known
as China, still Chung Kuo in Mandarin, The Middle Kingdom.

– Rosana Sam

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