On the radiologist's table, I bring
     my knees halfway up while lying 
on my left side, so she can take the x-ray
     picture of my spine. I'd waited a month
before this, nursing the pain shooting from
     my lower back then down the entire
length of my right thigh and leg.  
     I'm reminded of Cordillera women 
who still wear beads in their hair: lengths
     of cloud-gray agates streaked with cinnabar,
entwined with the bleached vertebra of a snake. 
     Supple and agile for every in-the-nick-of-time:
that ladder of bone now coiled around the head 
     instead of lying straight as a horizon. In my case, 
it isn't broken or shaken out of its fleshy sheath; 
     brittling knobs tip, perhaps wanting to escape 
the tight sequence of bone-space-bone.

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