millais1
Old life adieu
by Mark Andrew Heathcote

When I was 9 yrs old, we moved house, upped sticks
Leaving the city for the countryside
I was brought along like the candlesticks
Unwanted baggage, I was petrified.

With nervous excitement I said goodbye —
“Old life” and welcomed a new beginning.
I’m going to climb huge oak trees and pry —
Into nests, my insides were now grinning.

With heart pumping, jumping out of my vest
I’ll chase brown butterflies and dragonflies
And like Huckleberry Finn I’ll digest
The stars the streams the forest as it sighs.

Wasn’t this going to be an Adventure—?
On arrival, it was my dreams come true
No parents or dumb teachers could censor
Old life adieu — off to the fields I flew.

IMAGE: “Dew Drenched Forest [England]” by John Everett Millais (1890).

HEATHCOTE

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR/
FIRST-PERSON BIO: 

Well, I was born in Withington, Manchester, one of three children; I was the eldest and the only boy. We lived in a three-bed terrace house with no bathroom or indoor toilet. I lived there until the age of nine and was a quiet and unhappy child, but that changed when the family moved to the countryside, where I then had the freedom to explore nature at first-hand. I spent much of my free time climbing trees and swimming in lakes and rivers, making rope swings, stuff like that. I was looked on as a kind of Tarzan figure, that’s how all other kids saw me. I was never academic and was years behind all the other children at school. I struggled badly in high school and didn’t learn a great deal. I left school at age 16, taking dead-end jobs on local farms and then in factories. I left home at age 17 —  by then, there had been a messy divorce and relationships weren’t good all round and haven’t improved all that much since. So I moved back to Manchester, where I’m still residing now and have done ever since. I’m a father of five and for the past 14 years I’ve be employed as a learning disability support worker. I write a lot of poetry in my free time and enjoy music and gardening.