It travels from hip to neck for my purposes. Your trips are usually sideways and delicate. Your nails need trimming to that exact level, and when they are you spell out the commonest and most meaningful of words as I lie here on this mattress on a floor in this sleepy neighborhood. You try to confuse me with foreign words when you feel playful, but my skin is smarter than me. Translation transmissions thru firing chemicals make the pretend deception just all the more recognizable.

You tell me stories of when your grandmother would scratch your back as a child. You say she hummed Greensleeves as she painted pictures of your life ahead on your small spine. You say that was the most you've ever known of love and that your life turned out just as she sketched.

Sketch me. Tell me how it will turn out.

When we are back to back at night, as is our custom, our spines are firing like a dog's dreaming legs. They don't understand and it's not in pictures, but signals are being sent back and forth. You know more about me each morning. I don't mind.

I dream about being bent and hobbled with my aching back in an arc of cane-aided pain. You're there, standing straight and smiling. I feel glad that it's you who will be able to tell me how it turned out when we meet again.

I wake up in a cold but peaceful sweat and twist my spine to roll over and watch the back of your neck for just a few seconds before the dream begins again.