K. Tyler Christensen


I take a bath,
in the moments when he has a signal
and I don’t. I read queer theory
in the bath between calls, my skin
stinging against the water. Between calls,
I read Kevin Floyd in the bathtub:
Butler—Judith, that is—maintains;
performativity is ‘a reiterated acting.’

An act is an act by its happening.
An act is what you do between calls.

These calls
between calls
about nothing.

I’m sitting down now, he tells me.
I’m eating Kimchi and macaroni, he says.

And he eats Kimchi and macaroni
and I wait until he’s finished eating
to tell him, they buried my grandmother
today. In her hands? A wooden spoon.

It’s been a weird day, I tell him.

the pee girl.
the belt.

I’m getting coffee now, he tells me.
And I can hear him, asking the people
in front of him, Are you all in line?
I can let you go, I tell him,
but he’s not listening to me. She’s dead,
I want to tell him. I want to scream,
my mother no longer has a mother.
I want to tell him to stop wasting my time.
But he’s still hanging on the line,
tapping the shoulder in front of him,
asking, again, Are you all in line?

Seriously, I say, I can let you go.

Between calls to the VA, her sisters,
and me, my mother lets her mother go.
Between calls I take a bath:
More Floyd, more Butler, more acting, more
mourning the loss of something
I never had to begin with—
a lover
a grandmother
a mother.

She was:
her abyss.
I am:abysmal.

K. Tyler Christensen is a PhD student in American Literature & Culture at The George Washington University in Washington, DC. He holds an MFA in Creative Writing (Nonfiction) from American University. His work has appeared at Huffington Post, The Rumpus, Tin House - The Open Bar, and Boise Weekly.