My father's head has become a mystery to him. We finally have something in common. When he moves his head his eyes get big as roses filled with the commotion of spring. Not long ago he was a man who had tomato soup for lunch and dusted with the earnestness of a gun fight. Now he's a man who sits at the table trying to breathe in tiny bites. When they told him his spinal column is closing, I thought of all the branches he's cut with loppers and piled and burned in the fall, the pinch of the blades on the green and vital pulp. Surgeons can fuse vertebrae, a welders art, and scrape the ring through which the soul-wires flow as a dentist would clean your teeth. And still it could happen, one turn of his head toward a hummingbird, wings keeping that brittle life afloat, working hard against the fall, and he might freeze in that pose of astonishment, a man estranged from the neck down, who can only share with his body the silence he's pawned on his children as love.