How little I remember of that English class! Yet in our immigrant enclave of the Bronx, in the early fifties, education was the true religion of our elders who came from the poor corners of Europe. Mostly they worked under the rule of factory discipline, which they expected us to learn at school. The so-called skill set that we needed to master included finishing work on time, efficiency, speaking standard English. Yet how little I remember about that class! At first I get back only the bare room and my good posture, spine straight, mind alert, hands folded on the desk, waiting for the signal, Begin. Where the photo of Stalin would have been if my grandmother hadn't escaped from Moldavia, the great white face of the clock exacts obedience as we bow our heads over our blue books. Now the teacher appears, a wizened old woman with orange hair, dressed in black, she parades up and down the aisles, a ruler in her right hand, its sharp sudden crack coming down on somebody's desk distracts me as the minute hand above moves silently toward its alignment with the hour when the bell will sound, the loudspeaker will blast commands; over the din, the hoarse voice of the teacher will be heard issuing the order, Pencils down! Racing to complete the last essay, I'm amazed that I can produce line after line on Kipling's "Road to Mandalay" under these conditions: the whack of the ruler spreads fear as it disciplines the classmate who sat up, yawned, stretched his arms, and stole a glance at my exam. He's marched off to a corner, made to face the wall, denied the opportunity of finishing the test, an example to all of us, an F scrawled on his face sheet. And I feel the time I need is being expelled from the room, leaving me breathless, a boy learning to work under the tyranny of the time clock. ///////////// Marc Kaminsky is a poet and psychotherapist in private practice in Brooklyn. He is the author of nine previous books of poetry, including The Stones of Lifta (Dos Madres Press), The Road from Hiroshima (Simon & Schuster), and Daily Bread (University of Illinois Press). His poems, essays and fiction have appeared in many magazines and anthologies, including The Manhattan Review, The American Scholar, Natural Bridge, The Oxford Book of Aging, and Voices within the Ark: The Modern Jewish Poets.