The Raifang Station chamber of stalls
is a gallery of latrine-ic icons on doors
inviting one to chose
between Western or traditional
Taiwanese toilets
while hopping with qued-up

I grab the first open door
push past my predecessor
a woman so ancient her legs have turned to wood
yet she prefers a squatter.

My knees wince, grimace, flinch
in fearful anticipation.
We can do this, I assure them
positioning my feet on porcelain grooves
white as the snow
not fallen on Jilongshan
in over 80 years.

But what about splatter?
I wonder, I fear, I exhale, relieved.
A ceramic guard well-spaced
keeps drops and plops in their place
and a pull-chain tank delivers a final cascade
further washing away potential disgrace.

Illustration courtesy wikihow.com

8 thoughts on “To Squat or Not is a Process of Elimination

  1. Mosmt salient for me is the present tense narrative you went with–and then the high drama around the knees, their ability to balance and still manage an aging body–almost as if this is a rite of passage–there’s a tension in this piece, even though the tone is light and hearty.


    • Definitely a rite of passage! I’ve asked both young and elder Taiwanese women which option they prefer and overwhelmingly it’s the squatter. The idea of sitting on a toilet that’s been in contact with other bottoms is horrifying to them. They do have a point. Thanks, jd.

      Good to see you and hear your students read their poems yesterday.


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