This Energy of Surgery

Alma Ortman
3 min readJan 26, 2022
Photo by Alma Ortman

It’s an odd thing — being away,
Almost outside yourself, asleep
while strangers cut the body and go inside
Taking what doesn’t belong,
Those pieces that sound like disease,
Rich parts that have become dangerous,
Wild beauties I was just starting to feel.

And what’s to be left in this place?

I had a dream before waking of an angel I’ve seen before,
Fiercely winged, he spoke like a pattern
Reminding me of protection
Reminding me it’s not my fault;
This is how we steady the room inside your heart,
The place that kept me safe outside and on the table.

I woke up relieved: Alive,
Intact enough,
Grateful for good people that see me bright,
that while I slept, held the light.
Grateful for the hands that went inside,
the ones that knew how to be kind,
with tubes, machines, and medicines
all made to push, and pull, and take
so carefully.

Grateful to be the one that I am now
who can honor rest and grief over guilt and fatigue,
who can feel light in the tears and ask pain and the fears
where they hurt, holding each like a child —
small, honest, allowed —
Who can trust help, trust surrender,
trust love on an empty stomach
and let others make the soup.

I wanted to believe a story I pretended
to be true with my heart, where I’d wake like a
cure; devoted, prepared for the walk,
big enough to be a container for this age,
like the taking of disease was all that I’d need
to heal this ancestral unease:
The wars I’ve hated inside becoming relics,
sharp bits I can put down, bury
in the rivers that birthed me
because they aren’t mine
and then! I could be paired with sounds like
good and clean
and beauty that is so strong it’s also soft,
like an easy piece of glass that’s been soothed
by the waves and the salt
and it no longer cuts.

But I still have incisions to care for on this body’s skin
and also within the old inside —
The opening of a truer way to be:
Slowly discerning between yes and no,
Bravely forgiving the times I couldn’t glow,
Seeing how warm, how funny, how deep I can go,
Finding strength enough to know when I need,
Making my space present



to feel what will feed,

Taking time to be quiet
quiet as a seed
so that I grow out and live up
more fiercely for me, a nervous system
finally aligned for generosity,
coated and rooted
Composed like a tree,
Like the pieces of nature that are also in me.
Some return to earth now, some stay inside,
tissues and issues speaking to heal,
And myself moving more like that earth now,
getting close and unapologetic,
Walking though unprepared
Talking from the root, studying the place
where trust meets voice and truth
and the weather,
Making the practice of love
a practice of presence.

And I listen to the hard parts
I can’t yet put down —
holding the flames and shadows in a dance
that is clumsy and forgiving,
belly patient, throat inside out,
a movement that still offers grace
within the curtains of this loud, gifted
shifting vessel of energy I care for,

sitting in the dark gently,

lovingly — still lovingly, achingly
© 2022 Alma Ortman. All Rights Reserved



Alma Ortman

Mindful poet & lifelong learner. Musings on belonging, authentic connection, joy, spirit, body, nature, inner work, vulnerability, self-love, fierce compassion