Princesses: Where are they now? (Part eight: Mulan) by Sarah Thomasin

Princesses: Where are they now?
(Part eight: Mulan)

The soldier known round here as Fa Mulan came home five years ago. The marriage hoped for and dreamed of by old Fa Zhou, allying their family with the prestigious Lis never came to pass, but the old man can’t complain. His child has covered them in glory enough with twelve years of daring military victories. Li Shang, on the other hand, was never much of a soldier, and although they say Mulan saved his skin a dozen times, eventually his reckless ways were bound to catch up with him. Mulan, or Ping – that’s still the name the soldiers use – was grieved when Shang was reported dead, but there was relief too. Shang wanted marriage, wanted a dutiful wife with grace and decorum. Shang did not want Ping.

Although the villagers at home still use the name Mulan – more out of deference to the old man than anything. They’re used to the retired soldier’s masculine attire and manner. And though some whisper, dishonouring a war hero is not to be thought of. The face Fa Ping sees reflected in the pond: weathered, scarred and manly, does not look like a stranger anymore.

He smiles.


Sarah Thomasin is a performance poet living in Sheffield. As well as saying poems out loud at every opportunity, they have had poems published in Now Then magazine, and in two English Pen collections, three Pankhearst Slim Volume anthologies (No Love Lost, Wherever You Roam, and This Body I Live In), The Sheffield Anthology (poems from the city imagined) and Poems For the Queer Revolution. They were also commissioned to create a limerick quiz about gender which appears in Kate Bornstein’s My New Gender Workbook. You can find Sarah online at www.sarahthomasin.com.

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