#780 Thank You, Mrs. Dominitz. 7-3-18

Who was I to wash up on your
class room door,
December, 1954?
I’d just turned six.
A victim of systemic
gerrymander
in The Bronx
school districts
completely unequipped
to control
battalions of Boomer Babies born
since The Boys came home,
let alone
to “teach ‘dem brats!”

So,
my mandated meander

from
P.S. 74, Parkchester

to
P.S. 77, Sound View Avenue

left me standing there,
looking up to you,
my untutored mind
woefully unprepared
for the rigors
of what it meant
to you
for me
to be
“an educated First Grade Scholar”!

“My Scholars!”
you called your students!

LOL!

In ’74, we had coloring sheets and crayons.
“Stay inside the lines, children!”

In ’77, your students were
reading stories in their book nooks.

In ’74 we took naps and had recess.

In ’77 you taught math and success.

What could you do with me?

“Why! Catch the boy up, of course!”
you said.
“It’s not the child’s fault!”
you said.

You kept me after school,
from 1:30 to 3:00.
Taught me
all I’d missed.

(I chuckle,
now,
to remember me,
then,
too scared
to walk the echoing hall,
alone
to go to the empty bathroom
during break.
So,
I pissed myself
while you parsed sentences.
Three times I pooped my pants.
You must have known
just by the smell,
but you never said a word
to shame me
and I was to ashamed to tell!

What you were pouring
into my brain was
to vital
to stop
to worry
about what
oozed
in my undies.

Through that winter and spring
you pumped an encyclopedia of learning
into my brain-become-sponge,
right up to those year-end tests
deciding which 2nd grade level
I would go on to
or
whether I’d be-

“left back”.

I remember
a gray-haired lady.
I remember
her power over my destiny.
I remember
you,
whispering,
hinting,
to her,
hopefully,

“This is Kenny. He might go to 2-C”?

To which the lady replied,

“Oh, no!
I think the 2-A track.
You’ve done a fine job.
I can tell how hard you’ve tried.”

My eyes staring down at my book,
I never knew to whom she looked,
to whom she aimed that accolade.

But in my memory,
it was to,
only,
you,

Mrs. Dominitz,

my childhood-life-life-guard
who pulled me from
the post-war turmoil
of the New York City surf
to plant my feet on higher ground.

Had you not been
what you were then,
“a teacher in your soul”,
who else would have paid my bail,
me,
languishing in some
second-grade jail,
a self-fulfilling-built-to-fail-zone,
down there in
2-F,
somewhere,
and,
sadly,
not alone.

(There were others, not so lucky.)

The City and the 60’s
would have devoured me.

Just

January,
February,
March,
April,
May,
June,
four days a week,
(Friday, your Sabbath service waited)
one and a half hours a day,
not one second to soon,

to save my life.

I hope I’ve earned it.

I still have our class photo.
You were old
even then,
as I am now.
I’m sure you’ve passed on.

I know you’ve taught the angels well.

Before you stood at Heavens door,
your grade book in hand,
all they ever did was
fluff their feathers
and pluck their harps
in what
you
would say
was some
out-of-tune-street-corner-do-wop-band.

Since you arrived,
they have become
the Orchestra of God.

About Ken Greenman

Married and Happy. Retired and busy. Living in NC. 71 and counting. December 12, 2020 and it's 72! ... I would love some written comments, critiques, adulation or kind suggestions.... If you have the time and or inclination, please feel free! Not in fear but by faith. We will see. See you later! If you ever want to talk for real, email me and I will send you my cell number.... I am enjoying this!
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