Overlooked by Rebecca Gethin




Rebecca Gethin lives on Dartmoor in Devon. In 2017 two pamphlets were published: A Sprig of Rowan by Three Drops Press and All the Time in the World by Cinnamon Press who published an earlier collection and two novels. She has been a Hawthornden Fellow. In 2018 she jointly won the Coast to Coast Pamphlet competition and has been awarded a writing residency at Brisons Veor.   www.rebeccagethin.wordpress.com  
















Formica exsecta – the narrow-headed ant


Beside the A road, a scrubbyplace

of rough grass, gorse, bramble –

land to make a developer think

depot, warehouse, lorry park,  


where each nest opens through a grassy tussock

you’d never notice

were it not for the little fringe of thatch

of fine grass blades, chewed into short lengths.


The focus is on the sun at its zenith

where they bring their rice-grain eggs

for warmth as they turn into larvae,

mandibles first, then eyes,


later the intestinal tract and limbs. 

Pupae slough off the egg-skin

and as they waken into being an ant

they know exactly what to do


allofonemind, to be formica exsecta

or ant with notch in head.   

Colonies spread under and overground,

all individuals notes in a score,


filling the staves of their territory.

They run between grasses and plants,

up low birches to farm their aphid flocks,

tending them, nuzzling them


to let down honeydew dropbydrop, 

filling the vessels of themselves

to transport this sweetness

back to the brood chamber. 


Across the road and camouflaged

by a high hedge, a China Clay pit

bays and growls,

bulldozers diggingscraping.



Rebecca Gethin

A Charm by rebecca gethin





Images of these very rare ants are by John Walters.