(from a series of photos taken by my grandfather circa 1925)

The elms frame the façade, lines of shingle,
ground covered in white:
an evergreen, trunk of one elm tree frames
of permanence. here I try to see behind
to hold onto with its pain built into walls
even before his mother’s death
his childhood kept blooming perhaps
in the years after the training bombs
but before the Russian tanks rolled in
perhaps his camera sought the places
mine were banal
where hyacinths bloomed
of his hopes or nostalgias what do I know
to hold on to after one war
as he walked in the cold looking
to frame, just so, the rising of
(and then everything seemed to pause
what home was—
in the heart?)
such loss what kind of home
the walls I sit between silent
his dreaming,
what he’d want
the last he’d seen,
now eighty years gone?
this image, see                  
curtains half-drawn
barely rising above
the elm’s arches
the house

stairway, a dusting snow everywhere—
side entrance, downspout, half
the photo. no home is a measure
the lens: a man I never knew fixes his childhood home
strong enough for the inheritance his father hard
loss piled upon loss and yet
the children’s garden beds grew wild 
when the walls had crumbled 
perhaps in winter the snow fell softly then
which in childhood felt like discoveries
perhaps the chimney corner    
what do I know of a home’s heart or
of mine what did he try 
followed upon another
for fortuitous angles, stepped back
the edifice his father built?   
though nobody knew anymore
a stillness 
what sort of hand builds 
did he wish for? 
about what this photo holds, 
our futures. who knows 
to show me, born decades after 
the walls he photographed 
I’d like to walk up those steps, 
into its intimacy:
the half-basement windows
the snow the way 
cradled the windows 
faced to the world.

Image credit: Kruglik estate, author unknown