Tug Of War

Our mother explained winter this way:
Every October, Chinamen would
get a yen to mow, and so, in a tug of war,
they’d yank away our green grass
and leave us with an ugly brown carpet.
Every April, the sun would lend
a shoulder and we could wrest it back.
In November, as leaves fell,
Mother said it was because the Chinese
were pulling on the tree roots.
When foliage reappeared, she’d claim
American know-how had again
managed to manufacture another crop
just to make Asia jealous.
Teachers attributed such phenomena
to the rotating of seasons,
but Mother warned us not to be fooled.
It was a continual battle called
“yin yang,” the only Chinese she knew.
And since on the other end,
there were more than a billion of them
busily digging in their heels,
we children were expected to tug back.
Or so Mother convinced us
when we were made to kneel and weed.


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