The National Poetry Review

Maja Lukic


For our anniversary, my love gives me
a small arrangement of black roses.

He says there is an element of the macabre
to everything I like. Time plods on,

me in a black floral dress, and the sun shining darkly.
Everything we do brings us closer

to our last flowers. Zagajewski wrote to a friend:
“a dose of death occupied your body.”

Zagajewski died this year too.
We live between doses. I almost never

think about my mother’s death.
My mother’s death is all I ever think about.

The sun is clever and clear but I see
the saddest edge of everything, braiding

my thin hands around thorns and petals,
reading poems titled after vespers.

A moment in every afternoon when
I sense a shimmering just beyond our grasp—

like the wavy landscape behind a fire.
All life, I think: rapidly eroding meaning.

The black roses last for months
and are still here, dried, and dyed.

My love studies them, says, one day,
he will break down the arrangement,

find out why it’s still so beautiful.

MAJA LUKIC is a poetry MFA candidate in the MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College. Her work has been published or is forthcoming in The Adroit Journal, A Public Space, upstreet, Crazyhorse, Salamander, Colorado Review, Prelude, and other journals. In 2020, her poem “Dusty Lemons” was featured by Tracy K. Smith on “The Slowdown” podcast. Links to pieces published online are available at

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