once upon a summer gloaming…

In response to Eugi’s weekly prompt, fairy, a poem about flying ants – which are very fey, in their own way. They swarm one night a year in late summer, usually after rain, and every year they catch me by surprise: 

Once upon a summer gloaming
a cloud of fey-folk filled the air.
I paused there in my evening roaming
to watch them fly, those folk so fair.
Glistered wings, flinging dusk-light –
rose and gold, ‘twixt veins of black,
all risen for this single night
from earth below. Not one turns back.
For in the whirl they seek a mate –
in aery dance, to pair and marry –
the dance of love, that death will sate.
Then coiled in helix, new queens carry
the future-fey, tucked safe inside.
But most will fall, their dusk-life done:
ten-thousand deaths in darkness hide.
By dawn-light all the fey have gone.
Their scattered wings lie lost, forlorn,
but ‘neath the ground, unseen yet near,
they build and lay – no rest to mourn –
so the new brood flies again, next year.




Filed under poem

14 responses to “once upon a summer gloaming…

  1. Oh, Kate, this is wondrous! I’ve not heard of flying ants but the creatures you describe in your poem remind me of fireflies. Such a beautiful and lilting piece. Thank you so much for joining in.

    • Thank you so much!
      I’ve never seen fireflies in Australia, but I did see them once as a kid when we spent a few months in the US. Amazing!
      I think most ant species send out drones and new queens to start new colonies, even some quite large ant species. I’ve seen cm+ long winged meat ants. Actually, they were a bit scary. But the small ones are enchanting. They fly, mate, then the males die and the females drop their wings and head underground.

  2. I love your wonderful depiction! You’ve made it sound magical! I’ve never seen them swarm, but I dislike flying ants. I can never tell if they are ants or termites. Fireflies, or lightning bugs as I grew up calling them, I like. 🙂

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  4. Usha Paraeswaran

    Beautiful poem.

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