SWWIM publishes, celebrates, & promotes women, women-identifying & Femme-presenting writers through a Miami-based reading series & the online poetry journal SWWIM Every Day.

L’Oeuf Chaud Froid

I’ve said I remember nothing

of the first three months.

But when I start peeling back

the bleary out-of-body shroud,

the stitches, the sitz baths,

there’s the milk-

stained blue couch

where I woke in the blue

light, turning off

my alarm, turning on

the yellow pump

and the TV, every three hours

another automatic emptying.

An ounce or two, less than half

of what you needed, the box

of formula unopened

in the pantry. The refusal

to open, scoop, measure.


Watching the famous California chef

pipe Meyer lemon crème fraiche

into an empty egg shell with the 

razor-cut cap, nothing

had ever been

so luxuriously precise.


And I remember

taking scissors

to my head

the next morning, wet

hair punctuating

the floor. Reading it

like tea leaves,

no room for pretty here.


Milk extracted

from my tits

like lemon juice

in the eye,

like a man


the urge to cry.

Thin cord of milk

pulled reluctantly

from the new abyss

where your body used

to be,





a rough white rope

up through



breast is best


No, I’ll never forget

the sucking

that yellow machine did

when you couldn’t.

How I would

grind my teeth

like I was coming down

off ecstasy

when the only thing left

is the chills,

the useless hollows

of a body

shitting and shivering,

the threat

of the flesh

coming back,

feverish and frigid




as 4 AM           as baby            an egg shell                


opened up


and ready

to be filled

Julia C. Alter is living, writing, and raising a toddler in Burlington, Vermont. Her poems can be found in, or are forthcoming from Glass: A Journal of Poetry, Storyscape, CALYX, Rogue Agent, and elsewhere.

Ode to Error

Middle School Passage