MAJA LUKIC Dusty Lemons

I was as blank today as you can
imagine, lost the way to circle back
to the beginning or even last summer.
I remember those days we wore matching
lemon flower dresses. I remember the
morbid anatomy of lemons and suburban
front yards. We posed for photographs
in our lemon dresses. We were little girls
on film, locked in a disposable camera—
they couldn’t shake us out—our 90s
faces came into view, pale as a circle
of dead peonies floating in ice water.

Today I’ve positioned myself against
starting but against stopping too.
Days and days repeat in superfluous
museums of routine. September slowly
becomes the sun behind dusty squares
of autumn glass. The wind carries rarities
with scissors and thin and remote streets
hold adjacent together like masked sisters,
existing for no reason other than
remembering minerals and footsteps
and how light once was on my face.

A story I’ve heard before—when my
mother was little, she lived in a house
of women on a lane of cherry trees.
She was a lemon and held one in her
open palm. They were poor, the lemons
were expensive. Devoured in secret,
she was punished for eating it
but loved the bitter wave across
her mouth, a dusty lemon.

This morning, fall bloomed and summer
died all at once like a person shedding
blonde hair faster than anyone predicted,
but as blank as you could imagine. Roses
crumbled to the sky and I remembered
we lived in a cottage of roses once—
there were wrong ways to hold a rose
so I learned by pain to be correct.
Lemons were luxury, and it was
wartime everywhere and elsewhere,
but I lived in a deathless garden
of flowers and infinite spring.

Rare to feel something other than
autumn, a nonspecific blankness.
Can you imagine? I carry lemon acid
with me, scrape a serrated knife across
the back of my hand, squeeze lemon
over it. Still remembering those thorns
on which I ripped my child skin,
I rip & rip again.


Maja Lukic is a poet and environmental attorney based in New York City. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Colorado Review, Prelude, Salamander, RHINO, Vinyl, and other journals. Selected pieces are available at majalukic.com and she can be found on Twitter: @majalukic113.