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.