The Day Orrie Trueman Climbed Emery Schoolhouse Tower
Charlie Grubbe and Aubrey Ella recall certain days:
the day teacher, Macdonald shook Castator
until the nails came out of his desk,
the day that Walter Lund dropped dead in a baseball game,
and the day Orrie Trueman climbed the school bell tower.
Dared by the boys to ring the bell
he began to climb the bricks on the south side,
finding a foothold in the half-inch edges
and use them like rungs on a ladder climbed up into the sky.
As he climbs he could see
Art Peeler’s dumbfounded face at the window,
his classmates getting smaller.
His climb would be something special:
something the boys would talk about,
maybe even the girls would notice,
something to give him a place in the school.
When Orrie finally stood on the rooftop of Emery
and rang the clapper, the village stopped.
Probably, his mother ran out of the kitchen door,
her tea towel wrapped around her wet hands,
his stepfather walked out of the barn and took off his hat,
Jennie Gillis stopped scattering grain to the chickens.
Below him the pupils shouted and whistled,
he heard the sound of the strap in the principal’s voice,
but it didn’t matter as long as he stood at the summit.
It made him forget about losing at soccer,
wearing the dunce cap.
Years later, when reveille awoke Orrie
and the sun glared down over the battlefield of the Sahara,
he stood again in the school tower and rang the bell over Emery.
From Two Maps of Emery
Laurence Hutchman grew up in Emery and attended Gulfstream Public School and Emery Collegiate Institute. He received his PhD at the Université de Montreal in 1988. He has taught at a number of universities including Concordia University, the University of Alberta, The University of Western Ontario, and The Université de Moncton where was a professor for twenty-three years. Laurence Hutchman has published eight books of poetry, co-edited Coastlines: The Poetry of Atlantic Canada, and a edited a book of interviews In the Writers’ Words: Conversations with Eight Canadian Poets. He has won received numerous grants and won awards including the WFNB’s prize for individual poems and in 2007 he received the Alden Nowlan Award for Excellence. He has served as Quebec Representative and New Brunswick/ PEI for the League of Canadian Poets and as President of the Writers’ Federation of New Brunswick. Hutchman has had many readings and conducted numerous workshops in Canada, the United States, China, Ireland and Bulgaria . He lives with his partner, the painter Eva Kolacz in Oakville.
He has served as Quebec Representative and New Brunswick/ PEI for the League of Canadian Poets and as President of the Writers’ Federation of New Brunswick.