top of page
  • Writer's pictureGastropoda

Three poems by Wanda Deglane


Figure 1.

My cousin tells me about her new garden and the little commune of fuzzy spiders that lives there. How they follow her around with their glassy teddy bear eyes. Kind of adorable, kind of terrifying. Sometimes the resident black widow clashes with the wasp while she watches in awe. She says it could only end in one of three ways. Wasp stings black widow. Black widow traps wasp in silk and eats her head. Or they lay down their arms, decide it’s not worth the fight. Wasp flies away, black widow returns to her web. Such is nature. Such is life.

Figure 2.

I wasn’t always afraid of bugs. I used to let ladybugs crawl up and down my fingers and build hotels for beetles out of leaves and twigs. I think I looked too long at their eyes, their limbs, their exoskeletons, and now I can’t stand to look anymore. But I’m open to being wrong. Do you think insects carry grief in their tiny bodies? All their loved ones dropping dead or squished flat or eaten by something impossibly gigantic. Do they hold bug funerals for those who have gone? Do you think insects need therapy? Is there a market for such things?

Figure 3.

My cousin has been studying butterflies. She lies awake at night going down Wikipedia page rabbit holes. She shows me pictures. This one is a western pygmy blue. This one’s a swallowtail. This one even has a big snout. She's been googling monarch migration patterns. How they all know where to fly even if they’ve never been there before. The map is imprinted in their DNA. How they ache to leave home for a place they’ve only heard is greener than this.

Figure 4.

My best friend goes to an entomology class to learn how to mount a bug to a frame, to spread its wings in all its iridescent beauty. She didn’t know that the small rigid body doesn’t want to move that way. It fights, and it bends, and it breaks in many places. She studies their faces, beautiful and hideous even in death, and wants to cry.

Figure 5.

Google search: are insects capable of love? when their best friend is accidentally taken away in the Doritos bag of a traveling human, does it make them sad? can insects dream? do they feel fear in the face of imminent danger? does it rise like a heat in the middle of their thorax? do they feel how utterly small they are in the midst of this great and terrible world? does it matter?


Emily, I dreamt you up. I prayed for you

on hands and knees like I invented praying,

like I even knew how. I love your big feet

and your frizzy hair. I love your yellowed

sea turtle heart. Emily, I’m so sorry

for who I’ve been. We were born on different

planets, and this is how I survived mine. I’d pull

the leaves over my body. I’d burrow into the

earth and I’d cry loudly. They didn’t look at me

when I made myself small. They didn’t touch me

when I hid. In bathtubs and closets and washing

machines. Emily, can I ever say how sorry I am?

I guess I spent so long resenting you. You who

can stomp up the stairs and slam the door. You

who can speak even when not spoken to, when

my own vocal chords were crushed in fists. Your

singing voice all volume, no pitch. My

chatterbox, my firecracker. Emily, I love you. I

love nothing more than you and I don’t say it

enough. Sometimes I forget to be brave.

Sometimes I close my eyes and pretend I’m a

glittering fish soaking in the sunlight. And

wherever I look, you’re there too. Emily, you’re

my favorite thing this sorry world has ever spit

out. Will you save a place for me at your table?

Can I ever make it up to you?


I’m a different person at 8 am.

The light is still on beneath the

crack in the door. My fingers

tingly. I pop my brain into the

blender and slurp it up with

some honey and greek yogurt. It

has a nice consistency. An

interesting flavor. I give myself

little treats just for

waking up in the morning. I swim

in dresses stitched to know my

skin. I feed myself grapes and

cubes of cheese like

I’m my own lover. Affirmation: I

will not drive my car off the ramp

connecting the 101 and the I-17. I

stroll through parking lots like

I’ve got all the time in the world,

saying, You should see the other guy.

Sometimes I’m still 13 and falling

asleep on my friend’s trampoline

until Ursa Minor swallowed me

whole. Until I opened my eyes

and drowned in a sea of stars and

ultramarine. But mostly I’m here

and I’m applying blush on the tip

of my nose with my pinky. I

promise I’m awake. I swear

I’m paying attention.


Wanda Deglane is a poet and therapist from Glendale, Arizona. She is the author of Melancholia (VA Press, 2021) and other books.

38 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page