Upon discovering him upside-down on my bedroom’s hardwood floor, I ask him, “Aren’t you cold, dude?” But his mandibles only crick and clack in what strikes me as a satisfied manner, and I am forced to conclude he is not. In fact, it occurs to me, watching his little legs oscillate, that armor is a fine trade-in for nakedness. He is left alone, yes—even I, upon apprehending him, lock my door, hide his carapace away—but this, for me, is not an act of quarantine. Yes, I am abandoning him to either await or dread my return in peace, but this is with a feeling of reverence, even awe. To need no warmth, to fear not another’s compromising your flesh. I leave him. I have obligations to meet, people with whom to momentarily be. But for the rest of the day I am unable to take my mind off his upturned thorax, the helpless thrusts of his unfamiliar limbs at our coffered ceiling. One day, I think, if I am fortunate enough, if I study him in the days ahead with care, I might share his fate. I might exist alone.
But when I return from that day’s dig—I work in construction, pouring concrete—it is to find his belly opened, smaller bugs working at and into his soft insides. For a while, I attempt to tear them away, toss them with wet-sounding smacks against the walls. At last, though—exhausted, starved—I join them in their feast.