Originally posted on Mastodon on September 8, 2020.


Hark to the sound of murmurs fill the room;
Mulan before the door does toil at loom.
The shuttle slacks; the clacking silent falls,
The only sound the maid's lamenting call.


You wonder where the maiden's thoughts may bend,
What memory might her give such sweet torment.
Yet no phantasm grips her sturdy heart,
Nor does remembrance cause her aught of doubt.


Past eve were seen the martial rosters grand;
The Khan calls forth a muster 'cross the land.
The names march onward far as you can look,
And Father's name is found in every book.


There's no grown son to stand in Father's stead;
No brother rides so she may rest her head.
At market will she buy her horse and gear,
And take her Father's place wherefore to serve.


Eastward she goes, the finest horse to buy;
Westward she goes for saddle fit to fly.
Southward she goes for bridle and a rein,
Northward she goes; a riding crop is gained.


At morning blush she rides, by parents blessed;
At nighttime dark by Yellow River slept.
No longer does she hear her parents' call,
Only the mighty water crash and fall.


She rides at dawn, the river at her back;
Encamp'd by night at the feet of Mountains Black.
No longer does she hear her parents' voice,
Only the savage horsemen's screaming noise.


Machines of war a thousand leagues do blaze,
Fly past the strongholds, 'cross the mountain ways.
The frigid wind resounds with striking steel;
A frozen light is burnt on coats of mail.
A hundred battles fought, and many fall;
A decade's strife finds some still standing tall.


They come before the Son of Heaven high
Who sits in glory on the throne of light.
By all reports, courageous deeds were done;
Reward is given, just and princely sums.


The Khan inquires, aught else does she desire?
Mulan thinks not of office nor of honor,
Her only wish to ride a thousand miles
Bound for the much-loved home where she would dwell.


Her parents head outside the city gates;
Clinging to one another, they but wait.
Big Sister, told Mulan will soon be there,
Puts on her dress and make-up with some care.
The Little Brother, welcome feast to roast,
Sharpens the knives and hurries to the goats.


"Eastward I open up the bower door;
Westward I sit upon my platform chair.
The long, grim cloak of war do I cast off;
The skirt of girlhood I put on with love.
By window clear I fix my cloud-soft hair;
In mirror bright affix the flowers fair."


Outside she steps to meet her comrades' eyes,
And to a man they start in their surprise.
A decade on, they've been through thick and thin;
In all this time they never dreamed Mulan was not a man!


"When held, a rabbit male will kick its feet,
While rabbit female looks through eyes that slit.
When they run close to ground and side by side
Female or male am I, can you decide?"