Fine; Fine; Fine

He began by eating what exposed roots he could find. These were Lovecraftian tendrils that peeked out of the dirt and were meaty. Here the worms were tenants. He chewed them into hearted segments and rubbed their innard mud into his gums. Where the tendrils’ diameters waned he grabbed, he pulled, he consumed. The easy peel bark came next and off in sandwich strips laced with late-season sap. Here the ants were tenants. He put them neatly into his mouth and let them think they could lift his teeth. Thorax, abdomen, head he mashed into paste. Some went on the sandwich strips. Some he ate plain. He dug canines into cambium and stripped past woodpecker holes and sun-dried cicada skins. The skins were hollow impressions and had nothing in them. Here he would mount the trunk and climb, claim angel tip and rip out bitter pits of decayed branchlets, gnaw at buds and baby leaves. Big branches with rings inside he split and spit on and made jagged pieces go to pulp that smelled of wasting. The pulp went down with sapwood juice and he sprang a termite from its home. Wiggle wiggle till the bite in the middle and the other buggers came out of their hole. He caught a pecker by the wing and broke its neck between his teeth. This he ate with heartwood. The tree was log width and sign height by then. The pith stank and was sallow. This he ran his tongue over, collecting slivers on pierced taste buds that blinked out one by one. The slivers became toothpicks for larvae: arboreal hors d’oeuvres that slid past teeth and down throat for tummy to collect. He rent the tree to a stump by nightfall and made an O with his mouth and held it there and bit and chewed till his lips met dirt again and the ground was supple; soft; bare. This was good. This was right. One day he would eat it all up in his tummy, every little thing he saw in the whole wide world, and when he did this he would smile; smile; smile. But tonight it was just this tree, and that was okay. That was fine; fine; fine.

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