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an ode to festival bathrooms



In the sweltering heat of sun and sweat-slick skin,

we attendees are faced with three choices:


rows of portable toilets where the smell has festered in the high-noon heat and toilet paper has

long since run out,


the interminable line to the women’s bathroom (or rather, the three-and-a-half stalls designed

to cater to an entire island of festival-goers), upon which is plastered an icon of an individual in a triangular dress,


or the free-for-all that is the quote unquote men’s bathroom


in this last place, you will find all manner of small divinities

a glimpse through stained-glass windows into humanity stripped to its most base needs:

to urinate and defecate and yet yearn to be found beautiful


people of all genders pile into the third pillar of this unlikely trinity

one applies glitter to their tits next to people peeing into a row of urinals

another dots lash glue onto eyelids by the scraggly mirror as someone flushes loud and long

the faucets are used to wet beauty blenders, wash hands, (questionably) fill water bottles, and

tame frizzy hair (and in one instance, a mustache)


in this place, the floor is too grimy, too disgusting —

no one bothers to continue kneeling at the altar of gender

people mill about their routines without a passing thought

for the fading icon on the push-pull door


and among these inconspicuous but repeated transgressions,

festival bathrooms become a hallowed site.

may we gather there today as supplicants and perverts alike,

revel in the recognition of the arbitrary,

and provide not repentance nor seek rapture,

but forego rationality in favour of reverence

Clémence is a queer and genderqueer law student hoping to reacquaint themselves with creative writing skills they’ve always held dear. In their academic work, they focus on the operation of legal and linguistic binaries and the interaction between heteronormative institutions and queer social movements. In their personal time, they like to take poetry recommendations from the resident tabby cat at their favourite second-hand bookstore. Though writing often feels like a solitary activity, it rarely is for them — their poems carry with them the communities that made them possible.

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