Velveeta

Nikki Ervice

Velveeta is orange like the seam where the earth

pops its stitches.

Valerie is holding out her sandwich from

the top of the beach. It is an orange mouth between two

slices of wonder bread oozing with

yellow saliva.

 

The rest of the day is pearly wet gray rocks

and sky. Water in Halibut Cove is the blackest green

you can imagine and our bodies are whiter for it,

our flesh something close to organic in

saggy snoopy underwear.

 

The water calls us only to spit us out, our whole

skin is stinging paper cuts. Too much salt, too

cold for natal fantasies. It is the tiny, trilling 

brush of death that keeps us shrieking and

rushing the shore.

 

But Valerie is holding out the Velveeta sandwich

from midway up the beach. I am

new and know nothing of religion but I know

a lot about reverence—once

 

I went to Catholic mass after a sleepover

with Samantha and was deaf to all the words but I still

feel the cool stalactites of my fingers

dripping with holy water. Everyone played

in puddles there.

 

The rocks are smooth and painful on my bare feet as

I bite and bite.

Valerie wraps me in a wet towel.

Something close to organic, something orange against the

hollow, teeming curve of the bay

that goes on with or without our daily assault.

 

Something made to sit for years without

decay and melt dangerously on blue, half-numb

tongues. Something plasticine and forever and human against the

spill of life—the

most sinful food I’ve tasted.

Nikki Ervice is a professional dancer and writer from Alaska living in New York City. This is her debut poetry publication.

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