Brenda Coultas

“A Vanishing Song”

Written for Insectageddon by Cecilia Vicuna: a performance by poets on the mass extinction of insects. High Line, NYC. September 2021

I heard a
Fly tell
An eye
Not to cry

I saw a
Beetle thread
A needle

I told
A gnat
It’s at

I gave a
A purple ride in the sky

I heard
A cricket
Say, let love
Lead the way

I saw a
The size of

I build a sand hill inside the kitchen and with spilt honey make a home for a collective.


Thinking small for the smallest here (on my desk, a single ant too fast to catch and a dead spider wrapped in its own web, a parable).

Last night palms out, stumbling in the dark. But ants aren’t blind?


This summer I watched small line of working ants carrying off spilled sugar and gently swept them unto a dustpan and placed outside, the sugar and ants.

Insects sing to each other but why are we able to hear them?

I hear one singer going at it under the clouds in the damp of this morning.

From beneath my bed,
a song emerged
of the moon and sun
of pollen and flowers
with lyrics of black walnuts and acorns

I asked a Granddaddy Long Legs “Which way did the cows go?” The spider points 7 legs in 7 directions.

Does the spider really know or care about where my cows went?

The writing spider told me the way, or rather wrote the way down, and the typing spider, made it clear, by untangling the threads of a web.


I asked a bug for a bright song
A bug that was not a Volkswagen Beetle

The insect sang

Poet Brenda Coultas moved in the mid-’90s to New York City to work on the staff of the Poetry Project. Her poetry can be found in Bomb, How2, Brooklyn Rail, and the anthology Readings in Contemporary Poetry published by the  DIA Art Foundation Press.  Her books include A Handmade Museum (Coffee House Press, 2003), The Marvelous Bones of Time: Excavations and Explanations (Coffee House Press, 2007) and more recently, The Writing of an Hour, an ars poetica (Wesleyan University Press, 2022).

Read next: Poetry by Norma Cole

Founded in 2020, Three Fold is an independent quarterly based in Detroit that presents exploratory points of view on arts, culture, and society in addition to original works in various media, including visual art, literature, film and the performing arts. We solicit and commission contributions from artists, writers, and activists around the world. Three Fold is a publication of Trinosophes Projects, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization.