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Karina Lutz

Evening primrose


A biennial,

the evening primrose lives

its first year as

a basal whorl,


close to the ground, hiding

under the taller summer weeds.

Wintering over, it waits for warmth,

then sends up tall stalks that bloom and bloom and

set more and more seedpods along its lengthening stems.


This weed opens its flower at dusk,

shines for the moon, and closes at dawn.

It bears seeds in upright,

 open-topped pods,

easily shaken into the palm.



That year, 2002, I prayed for healing

every morning: with low-lidded gaze through the window

towards the garden, I bowed to my flowers with the sun.

Seeing the world as we knew it

begin to collapse slowly, like

the first moments of the twin towers’

melting floor by floor,

I resolved to rely

more on spirit than substance,

and tried to wean

myself from the medications

a decaying civilization is unlikely

to continue to provide.


One medicine stubbornly held on to me:

evening primrose oil.

Whenever I stopped taking the capsules,

my illness would return.


I kept praying: may I be healthy, may you be healthy,

may all beings know peace.


That summer evening primrose appeared in my garden,

somehow overlooked while weeding the fall before.

Sweet yellow flowers slowly folded closed

as the sun rose.

Where I, too, bowed

to the rising sun each morning,

the evening primrose had sown itself


seasons before I had begun to pray.





Cupped hands hold ashes

up to wind.

Lighter than sand,


than feathers,


the ashes





Grey clouds

already plump with smoke




back to life’s realms




reinhume, while the humans

wait to inhale, then do.


Drop to knees and place

what remains, grit of bone,

in the fire circle,

now cold, still ready.



Karina Lutz is a workshop leader, teacher, and sustainable energy activist. She helped found and run People’s Power & Light, a sustainable energy nonprofit. She has been instrumental in passage of environmental legislation in Rhode Island, thwarting a proposed megaport in Narragansett Bay and rewilding wetlands along the Blackstone River. She practices with the Joyfully Together sangha in Providence.