Sunday, January 31, 2016

Rachel Moritz, Borrowed Wave

Your Nana was ironing sheets
      in her Lemon Joy kitchen.

Wings without body, linen snagged on the lip
      of her board. Was she a bird?

‘I can smell the rubbers in the front entry
      as I sat on the hall-tree seat and hunted
      for my galoshes,’ she wrote,

remembering how an object locates –

You were drinking milk from her blue Delft tea-
      cup. By the slice of window you lifted up
      her teacup, left a rim of white on blue flowers.

Little moths or butterflies, parting waves. (“BORROWED WAVE”)

After five poetry chapbooks under her belt (published through New Michigan Press, Albion Books, above/ground press and MIEL Press), Minneapolis poet Rachel Moritz’s long-awaited first full-length poetry collection is Borrowed Wave (Tucson AZ: Kore Press, 2015). Constructed out of three sections and an opening poem, the meditative precisions and flow of Borrowed Wave are grounded in a narration of place, self and body, attempting a cohesion and clarity against constant distraction, and the possibility of being swept away. Her poems are deeply felt, concerned with the important questions, and inherent paradoxes, of intimacy, human interaction and the landscapes of memory. In the poem “ASSEMBLY NOTES,” she writes: “I peered within the body of our house // where a simple blue ornament, // nailed below the eaves, /// made recognition of our lives / a little easier.”


The face of the child, or how I said my motherhood was only metaphoric. How it rose against our unmade hill, kept turning to look where you said there was no one where sumac wizened on standing branches, we were pulled, you said, or how we found phrasing. Two paths traveling parallel, media of air following like an absent man. And what is a nearness like ours if we each remain, in our own way, concealed?

The narrative of her poems present an enormous density of information, allusion and reference in small spaces, built with such a remarkable pacing. “I’d believe the past is fragment,” she writes, to open “ANIMATE SONG,” “but for its narrow intimation of a door, // and the house waiting, all stucco and wet // where hummingbirds catch still // inside our kitchen tiles, and time // has no shape, in stasis; [.]” The narrative of her lyrics are built as sketches placed in open space, writing out short, accumulative bursts across a wide canvas, something evident in both her longer and shorter pieces, such as the opening poem “EMPATHIC OUTLINE,” a piece that suggests so much, as it opens: “Branches of the pine trees sway in this other season // like our apartment in the seventies, back and forth, typhoon – // Grapevines wearing cardboard shields, diagonal across a field [.]”

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