Think of O’Keeffe’s painting in blacks and grays

the legend beneath telling how anesthesia pulled her under

so what she saw she could no longer see—just a black dot

waiting at the end of the tunnel. Say the Holland Tunnel

when we drove through at 3 am racing a blizzard,

the only car. Our beams fixed on the distant circle,

and then we surfaced in Jersey City to snow-smeared light

and regained our place names, sought lanes leading home.

I see this while we talk about what you will feel like

when you have the surgery. “When.” “If you have to,”

and that leads us to think of losing ability to think

when the body is loosening from its usual pinnings—

moorings. Lessenings. Floating under,

period of the sentence when no words will follow,

neither to continue nor remonstrate nor assent.

O’Keeffe concocted a searing white titanium,

the white-out speck in the center, cold-hot pinprick

in the heart of color. Empty field. Blinding white. Period.