Five Weeks in the Flute of N. attenboroughii

note: Nepenthes attenboroughii, or Attenborough’s pitcher plant, is the largest known carnivorous plant, with a height up to 4.9 feet, and a pitcher diameter of 30 centimeters. It can digest rodents and other small animals. “Flute” is another term for the pitcher, where digestion takes place.

Week One: The Extremities

I wound up fetal and maternal all at once, curled like a ball python around the brilliant feathers of my sister’s escaped parakeet. My skin was stinging, everywhere except for my hands and feet, which were submerged in the digestive fluid too far past the wrists and ankles for comfort. I told her to close the cage tight, that Audrey (the parakeet) was too curious for her own good, that she would wind up in a place like this. They say the same thing to little girls, too. But they don’t mean a stomach, not often, at least.

Week Two: The Limbs

The rubbery feeling wasn’t something I expected. I thought I would be liquified. Absorbed. But bones take longer, I guess. Harder to work through for those more used to invertebrate feasts. When I took my soft fingertips to touch my tibia they both give way to one another, sliding like stiff jello. As the gelatin remains of my bones lost their composure I tried to name them all, but that slid too, frictionless. Ironing my brain smooth.

Week Three: The Parakeet

Once it got to Audrey, it hit me that I was going to die. It hit me that I was in the process of dying, and my first thought in response to that one was: shouldn’t this hurt more? And wasn’t that a funny thing to think? Audrey didn’t think it was funny, but maybe that was because I was watching her turn into soup in front of my eyes. It wasn’t dark in there, by any means. The sunlight shines through the vegetal womb, casting everything in an eerie green, reminding you both of the world outside and the imminence of your departure. Audrey shook, and the ripples sent feathers up into the remains of my hair.

Week Four: The Head

Birth in reverse. The feeling of fluid around you. A narrowing pocket of air. The rest of me didn’t feel anything, but now, now there is pressure, like being deep underground, deep in the ocean. The acid feels like a thousand tiny fish, teething gently under my eyes, behind my ears. My neck. Deeper, under the skin, the whisper of touch on my rapidly decohering skull. I feel it split along the same spots where it fused as I grew up, and then—no thought, and no sensation.

Week Five: The Torso

It no longer moves. It had been twitching all the while, two hearts beating, then one. And soon no more. The torso has the most mass, and so it’s saved for last. A feast, for when the times are hard. Last weeks before winter. Big game hunting. Skin, then flesh, then bone, then organs (flesh, again). A fullness that seeps through. Not gnawing but permeating. Saturating. It doesn’t even shudder. The ribs. The heart. And nothing left.