Two Poems by Meghan Barrett

Body Volume

by Meghan Barrett


Abstract: absent bodies integrate



they fly once

before they shed their wings


a virgin relies   on touch, clawed


altered and found a queen


Materials and Methods:

Cold anesthetized, we estimate the Catalina

mountains, the brightfield, reduced silver

and stained species, caught on flowers

we fed chopped crickets and

honey water, artifacts


fragments of colonies, diffuse overnight



both workers and virgins are female, bent

backwards along spine-bodies dense,


gives rise to the cup, Mass-fills a dark sex

not complete but




Discussion: is this vision in ants? collateral, the

nest experience-dependent and spread

to desert wood, under the light

of thin sheets of paper             wasps

we fly through the swarm, coarser;

delicate Medulla-serpentine in amber

branches: a speck against the sky



Found Poem Source: Ehmer B, Gronenberg W. 2004. Mushroom body volumes and visual interneurons in ants: comparison between sexes and castes. J Comp Neurol 469: 198-213.



Honeybee dance evolution from Apis florea to Apis mellifera

by Meghan Barrett



This is the old queen, measured in comb

a red dwarf nesting on cliff faces

the dance floor rich with locust bodies.

To suggest a homeless swarm will force her

ample crown to a cage, and she is prone to




We are the chosen, driven in rapid

number, a hollow tree cluster dancing

our single discoveries, artefacts deviated

by precision; we are all dawn bodies and

curves suspended

in evening nectar we

have flown just to determine the point

where our evolution diverged.



We are dots sharing a tune with nestmates

and floral patches; we are full of brood

but depleted. One giant, all of us puzzling

out the symbolic language of gravity, the colony

lifts off, dances on, a need to remain for the future



Did we come into existence

only for this?


Found Poem Source: Beekman M, Gloag R, Even N, Wattanachaiyingchareon W, Oldroyd B. 2008. Dance precision of Apis florea – clues to the evolution of the honeybee dance language? Behav Ecol Sociobio 62: 1259-1265.




Meghan Barrett is currently a biology PhD student at Drexel University, studying an expanded version of ‘bug brains’. Meghan hails from Rochester, NY and is greatly inspired by the ecology of the upstate area, hazelnut coffee, and her cat, Nyx. The biology behind her poetry and more about her work can be found at:

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