‘Clean sheet’ by Zsuzsa Csobánka

I live by the sea.
There the heart halts ever more slowly,
Gulls drift onto seaweed and jellyfish.
But I’ve drawn the curtains on the room,
I didn’t want to see the sunrise.
The flaking plaster will stand in its place,
On the water opposite, as the sun looks into my eyes.
This season is a slow one for death.
Someone inside me beats a clapper,
But the bells ring distant.

Look at the shore. I can remember, how I’d jog out every morning,
Wanting to believe it’s not so deep.
And the low-tide would help me lie,
Such a load of questions left unanswered,
But before the end I’m searching the word for high-tide.
This strip of coast is a hollow echoing bell,
The curtain is quite the opposite:
It can never hide the room.

Long shadows like exclamation points,
the waves are hauling something.
Like the sound of seagulls in the morning,
unbearably beautiful.

Now then come closer:
this here’s my bed.
So many hearts were here yet now it’s empty, like a lake.
Were it salty you could call it sea,
But I haven’t any tears to hold back.
I loved too. And there’s always the present tense,
But isn’t this human side ridiculously touching.

Don’t take me seriously.
Just look at my bed.
The salt dried onto the frame.
Like flaking plaster, dropping leaves or snow,
All who wish to see it burn away.
At least God could lie a little,
Saying the Monsoon actually exists.

4 thoughts on “‘Clean sheet’ by Zsuzsa Csobánka

  • January 17, 2014 at 10:35 pm

    Well it’s blue sky and water
    here on the Pacific Coast
    But having left her in Krakow
    it’s she I miss the most

    My bed is Salt Aire by name
    and on the wall dad’s Polish Navy officer’s picture
    in its special frame

    Generations have passed
    Oceans stay the same
    and life’s current takes me back
    where she awaits knowing
    I’ll return

  • January 23, 2014 at 8:44 am

    I have spent most of this evening on-line trying to answer one question. Was the city of Zary, Poland
    once called Izary? My mom’s father came to the United States in 1909. On the Ellis Island ship’s
    manifest, the place from which he came is called Izary. I can’t find that place anywhere in Poland,
    although I do know he lived near the German border. I have exhausted all resources trying to find
    an answer to my question.

    I decided to seek out an English language newspaper in Poland. I found the Krakow Post and thought
    that I may be able to find the information I am seeking through a classified ad. I really thought my
    web research would answer my question.

    As I started to read through the articles in the Post, I found the poem, “Clean Sheet” by Zsuzsa
    Csobanka. So beautiful. So haunting. And then … a response! A. G. Sadowski … I do hope you
    return. Soon!

    Boston, Massachusetts! Oh, I love the ocean. I wonder if I’ll cross it someday? To a place so far away.
    Izary? Zary? Czary? Strozowka. The last one …. a village. A grandmother … I never knew. It’s all so foreign … so far away … memories of past generations … washed away by so many voyages across
    the salty sea.

    Thank You, Zsuzsa for your beautiful poem.

    • January 23, 2014 at 9:00 am

      Oh, I almost forgot …
      to Zsuzsa Csobanka and A.G. Sadowski (on the Left Coast) …
      I forgot to leave my email …
      Just in case …
      Virginia (Ford Tokarski Kotowicz) Breen

      • January 23, 2014 at 7:12 pm

        Thanks for this

        If you long to find
        the sweet kiss
        of memories from your mind
        Poland beckons through our past
        Grandmother oh so close
        I’ll go back to see at last
        what you loved the most


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