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.


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