The Dream of Reason by Jenny George

Jenny George reads two poems from her debut collection, The Dream of Reason, published by Copper Canyon Press in April. 

Threshold Gods

I saw a bat in a dream and then later that week
I saw a real bat, crawling on its elbows
across the porch like a goblin.
It was early evening. I want to ask about death.

But first I want to ask about flying.

The swimmers talk quietly, standing waist-deep in the dark lake.
It's time to come in but they keep talking quietly.
Above them, early bats driving low over the water.
From here the voices are undifferentiated.
The dark is full of purring moths.

Think of it—to navigate by adjustment, by the beauty
of adjustment. All those shifts and echoes.
The bats veer and dive. Their eyes are tiny golden fruits.
They capture the moths in their teeth.

Summer is ending. The orchard is carved with the names of girls.
Wind fingers the leaves softly, like torn clothes.
Remember, desire was the first creature
that flew from the crevice
back when the earth and the sky were pinned together
like two rocks.

Now, I open the screen door and there it is—
a leather change purse
moving across the floorboards.

But in the dream you were large and you opened 
the translucent hide of your body
and you folded me 
in your long arms. And held me for a while.
As a bat might hold a small, dying bat. As the lake
holds the night upside down in its mouth.

Sonnet for Lost Teeth

The combines were tearing off the field’s clothes.
It was August, haying season. My tooth
was loose, a snag in the clam of my mouth.
I worked it like a pearl. I’d been out of school
for sixty days. In the sweat of the barn
I watched him shoot the calf in the head.
He wiped the hide gently, like cleaning his glasses.
Overnight, I grew a beard so I wouldn't
have to get married. I let my feet go black
from burned grasses. It never gets easier
he said, kicking straw over the blood patch.
She went down so quiet it was almost
sad. Later, when my tooth fell out, I buried it
under my pillow and it grew into money.

Excerpted from The Dream of Reason by Jenny George. Copyright © Jenny George, 2018. Excerpted by permission of Copper Canyon Press. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.