Years passed before she suggested to me—in a letter—that she possessed a photograph I had come to believe was lost. It was a portrait of myself, an infant scowling, a Churchill on my grandfather's knee. He was a young man then, younger than I am now, and between his teeth he clenches a pipe. His socks are lighter than his suit, a sumptuary fashion of the time, a nattiness of which I approve. I think that they were colored "Bird's Egg." In the snapshot he has the moustache I recall so well, a thin line drawn across the precipice of his upper lip, a Van Gogh crow cresting slightly more thickly at the filtrum. His low shoes show his elegant ankles. He smiles. He sits on the second red brick step of his stoop, his vest buttoned. The front door stands opened wide. The screen door, locked loosely with a hook and eye, prevents a closer look. There would not have been a fire. It may be summer, and I can see the shadow of the declivity of the firebox. But the season would not matter. My grandfather was, I think, morbidly and silently afraid of flames. After Dresden, he seldom burned logs in his living room. For Christmas he liked ribbon candy and a robe and slippers.
I cannot say who took the photograph. In her letter she claimed the house where I had dug my gardens was burned completely down. Somehow my photographs were spared. There putatively are, or were, two. The other I choose not to describe. My father, at the time the snapshot was taken, was matriculated at Heidelberg, where his ideas regarding subatomic matrices had made an impression. It might have been my grandmother who snapped the shutter, or one of the Lutrells, the neighbors dead now twenty years. No, thirty. The smile he presents to the camera is wide and bright. His glasses are thick, but behind the glass his eyes enlarge on their own. Clearly he is thrilled by his sad pride. His own mother is dead. He is, by any account, a remarkably handsome man.