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About this Poem 

"The collection from which this poem is excerpted is a riff on ancient botanical and pharmacological volumes (Theophrastus, Pliny, Galen, etc). I've always been fascinated by the echoes between the properties of herbs and trees and flowers and various human drives and patterns and experiences. Evening primrose is a weed with some unique reproductive tactics, which I found interesting because it has a long and well-vetted reputation for improving female fertility. Its unusually-shaped stigma even looks like a big X, as if the plant is advertising its usefulness for female (x-chromosome) complaints. Coincidence? Paracelsus would probably have said there's no such thing."
—Amy Greacen

Evening Primrose

Amy Greacen

Oenothera biennis


Early adopter, familiar of vespertine
temporal specialists, itinerants:
who said your life would be easy? Chance
encounters, chancy neighborhoods, the lean

ground nothing cultivated will possess. But you,
night-bloomer, all strings of dubious exes, loose
ends, unabashedly seedy—you need no excuse.
This is simply what you do.

Daze them with perfume, bombshell;
daylight’s gaudy attractants are nothing to you.
Instead, take moonlight to the next level; take the dunes,
parking strips, waste ground that, for the right body—well,

presents the perfect opportunity. Herb of the X
chromosome: you know stigma. You don’t care.
Wherever the ground’s disturbed, you’re there,
brash, sticky with longing, a complex

quadruply branching ripple-effect array
of balanced-lethal genes and a flair for risk.
You know why you are here, let no one say
otherwise, heterotic odalisque;

X marks the spot, and hot things happen next;
slippery, brimming inner places; oils surefire
for increasing suppleness and desire
and damn the consequences, baby;

they’re on your turf now.

Copyright © 2013 by Amy Greacen. Used with permission of the author. This poem appeared in Poem-A-Day on June 20, 2013. Browse the Poem-A-Day archive.

Amy Greacen