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,
Images of these very rare ants are by John Walters.