When I was four years old, my father left the family home to be a lumberjack.
He’d grown up in the brick canyons of Manchester, under the long shadows of the cotton mills, every breath he took speckled with coal dust. He started work aged seven as a scavenger, plucking cotton threads from under the looms. Thunder with jaws, he called those machines.
It was foggy the morning he left, the smoke twining with the fog so the two hung solid along the twisted alleyways. I watched from my bedroom window as he slipped away, smog closing behind him like a curtain pulling shut.
Years later a postcard came. On the front a painting – mountains with snowy, pointed hats, thick-fringed with trees too many to count. On the reverse a message.
The air is clear and smells of pine
I did not recognise the hand.