Six am was the first bell
Roll up the bedding and put it on the third shelf
Fifteen minutes later, the second bell
And we would all step out of our rooms.
It was cold in winter, so cold you thought you would die.
Summer was better, but we worked longer days.
We would exercise, eat breakfast, be spoken to
And then by nine am we would be expected to start work.
I, taking up my tools, would chisel at the sandstone and the limestone
Making building blocks out in the reclaimed land of the yard.
There was a team with me, many apprentices but mostly skilled men.
He would say, “Does that make sense? Do you understand?” Until I hated him.
That bully of a man. He bullied some worse than others.
A working party came by with axes and shovels on their way to clear the churchyard.
One boy, thin, yellow looking,
Took an axe and caved the bully’s head in. The boy said, “That should end it,” and they took him away.
It solved my problem. But the boy was later hanged.
I noticed the blood pool on the ground underneath the dead man.
They took the body away; we continued our work.
At twelve, we had dinner and a break, then went back to work for the afternoon.
Before supper, I stopped and watched the afternoon sun in the giant trees.
At night, the last bell ringing at 9 pm
I was alone with my thoughts.
The guard walks about with slippers.
I hear the padding of his feet
He wants to catch us doing wrong.
In a year, I’ll be gone. I’ll head to Hobart and work stone.
It won’t take long.