Rachel Moritz



Earliest erotic memory would be a woman's voice comb like on back

Spine is the wash

Odd fixation on checkered floor paneling makes memory a delicious sound pattern

Outside fabrics of other stories: hogs squeal across the bay
Slaughter-housed, spotted junks and their families bob waves

And so the sea opens a hundred leagues around a girl's back, body
piece electrifying as flash like wave or serpent


Would the piece after all function as an island?

Like in furious adolescence when all raged against those billboards
treating woman like a hog or stud steer. Loin, hunk, ass, dinner!

Constellation of desired parts under which true
life is keeping

The canoe wants to hug the island's shore

No one departs or arrives

In winter it's only dry tree branch and unsnapped underbrush

This might be the other shore


For things, she troubles hungering

Summer sheet

And in the zap of midday some loose tree snapping

The snap itself not loud enough, more like a lilt or hook or a slight
mouth gasp. She tries to snag herself, some part, foot, ankle, calf,
anterior. Then she is going through the leaves on the end of a tree
and feeling the wind through each piece


To inhabit perception of nonperception or of


Body giant chunk or trunk

Inside the case, an elephant without tusks


Both equally difficult—

gender floats through early memory to make the woman not
a woman and the back not a back but a resolute and highly tuned life
comb beginning

It was her mother's best friend. Or the men gathered
at a bamboo table with after dinner coffee hot

Each early puddle and stepping over it and stopping

Eroticism of wholeness


'Tuning the Instrument' is part of a larger manuscript concerned with the act of locating memory and identity in time and space. Here, the 'instrument' is perception, as the poem considers the place of gender, physical embodiment, and memory in the yearning for a sense of the whole.