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

Surgery by Elisa Albo

I know something of


                        for mending.

My father was a surgeon,


entered bodies, slipped




Cut cancer cells,

            quieted a mad appendix,


plucked out

            steaming bullets

late weekend,

                        full-moon nights,

sewed them up pretty.


Tailor-surgeon, what beautiful

            scars he left, even

on me—

the caught-in-a-can-of-black-beans

            index finger,

a cyst in the center of my chest.


Another surgeon cut my throat.


A Dr. Thomas slit my belly—

            the bikini scar a bit


but I was young,

            he was kind.


I know something of surgery.

            I’ve excised cheaters,

            traitors, liars,  opportunists—

dropped them

in a fast-moving river.


Mostly I excise words,

            the skill of my vocation,

avocation too, to trim

            detritus, extraneous, repetitive,

often Latinate words—like those—


to remove function,

            welcome air,



                        sew them

up pretty.

Elisa Albo’s chapbook, Passage to America, recounts her family immigrant story. Each Day More is a collection of elegies. Her poems have appeared in journals and anthologies, including Alimentum, Bomb, Crab Orchard Review, Gulf Stream Magazine, InterLitQ, Irrepressible Appetites, MiPoesias, The Notre Dame Review, Poetry East, and most recently, Two-Countries: U.S. Daughters & Sons of Immigrant Parents. She teaches English and ESL at Broward College and lives in Fort Lauderdale.

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