The Visionary Under The Knife

Helpless as an overturned beetle—left eye prepped

and draped—I lie on the operating

table. On this final day of the year, the surgeon

will remove the identical twin preachers in the one

pulpit by the papal flag and the distant

fire hydrant down the block

that looks like a vicious green dog. The crew

waits for the Nurse with the Knives. Of course

I wear an IV in my arm, tape across

my brow and ankles, terror in my solar plexus.

Team members talk to one another

in low Medicalese: capsulorrhexis ... paracentesis

tract ... phacoemulsification. The oximeter

clipped to my middle finger

must be keeping time

with my pulse. Something else: a speculum locks my

eyelids open. If I could clearly see

what everyone else is doing, I would not be

here. Masked faces draw closer. These costumes

suggest a royal ball, a bank heist, a Halloween

party. I dramatize

all three. The glass eye of

the operating microscope zooms in

on the surgical field. Dr. Chen makes a stab

incision at the 5 o'clock

position, perhaps to revise ad slogans, mangled

by weak eyes, on my small TV.

Anesthetic drops allow the doctor to dissolve

the lens in quarters. That's when I issue orders:

Leave the eyelid movies untouched!

They are my favorite show to watch as I'm

drifting into dream. The room fills with jets of

spraying water and ultrasound far beyond

the human ear as the hollow needle vibrates 40,000

times a second. The needle stops. The doctor

inserts a foldable silicone lens, courtesy of

Bausch & Lomb. The surgeon

checks the wound for leaks. More anesthetic drops.

Tomorrow is a New Year. Circus colors of falling

stars. Dazzle of meteors from oncoming

cars fades to Seattle gray. Metal patch over gauze

dressing attached

to my operated eye. My trusty

gurney, on standby, carries me to Recovery,

body propped high enough to sip my java

and order tardy breakfast.

Time to leave but not the way I came. Doors

swing open on the ever-moving world

always and never the same.