“Oh I love a woman with a backbone”

The Texan lilt sings

As she picks up a photograph.

My profile beside

Skeleton vertebrae

In the nature lab.

Hands gentle around the edges

The dense bones in her fingertips

Cushioned in her skin.

Capable of wiping the tears

From her daughter’s face

Plant an entire garden

Or packing up her belongings,

Nineteen years old,

To leave her first marriage

Her hometown on the Mesa

Chili and beer.

Leave her car in the airport parking lot

“I never did know

What happened to that thing…”

Recommence life

Spine straight

Against the heaviness

Of the memories that

Live between the vertebrae 


Once he told me

About the instep in his shoe

Countering the curve

Of his spine

I said “I know

I’m a little crooked too”


“Your right hip sits too high”
The doctor says over me.

Stretched out on her table

Could the culprit be

Lugging belongings place to place

Unable to settle in one location

Straining against settling

Has thrown me off balance

Set this strange gait

Which still startles me

When I see my reflection

Stroll past a window


My shoulder sits askew

On my spine.

The left sleeves of my clothes

Fall off this particular clavicle

My back carries the clothes upon it

With every other weight

His hand on my sacrum

Or her hand on the center

Of my spine

As I fall forward 

Into her lap

To muffle the sounds

So as to not wake the neighbors

At this late hour

In the morning it straightens

Even if my morning is past two

There is iron in my ribs 

Which makes it harder

To stand straight

Most days I somehow manage to

Shown through others

Through the years

Fragile as your spine is

Our brains somehow manage

To speak to the rest of our beings

Through our spines

I hear her voice deepening

With the weight of what she says

“Oh I love a woman with a backbone”