Let’s Please Live a Long Time

by Brett Hanley

Our new dog, home two weeks from the shelter,
buries each of the bones we give her in the yard,
as soon as they’re in her possession, as if the joy
they might bring is confusing and too much. 
A single creep of kudzu is making its way across 
the same yard, and I ask if we should cut it
or let it grow. Later in the conversation, I beg you
to tell me that we’ll both live to 110 again. 
This means that, since you’re younger, I’ll die 
before you. When I implore us to live so long, 
I’m really trying to slow down time. I worry the yard 
will become a rawhide graveyard and that the kudzu 
will keep growing, climb the steps onto our porch, 
weep in through the front door, crawl into bed, 
wrap itself around our feet, tie us together with a knot 
the Boy Scouts would envy. As the dog frantically digs 
into the earth with a beef hoof in her mouth, 
I can’t help but understand her. Let the bones
decay where she hides them. Let’s let the vine grow.

Brett Hanley is a poetry editor for Southeast Review. She holds an MFA from McNeese State University and is a PhD candidate at Florida State University. Their work is forthcoming or has recently been published in West Branch, Gulf Coast, Ninth Letter, Puerto del Sol, THE BOILER, Poetry Northwest, and elsewhere. She has received support from the Middlebury Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, and American Poetry Journal recently published their debut chapbook, Defeat the Rest.