Tuesday Poem: ‘Margarita #7’ by Tim Heath


Margarita #7

(for Dinah and Bruce)

To be a sailor, to sail away
is not simply to love the sea.
It is to plan, organise, repair,
fix, create, repair again, improvise,
contemporize, clean, stock, stow,
pickup, put down, find,
maintain, repair again,
accept the constancy of problem solving,
and keep an apostolic succession
of lists.

To be a sailor, to sail away
is not simply to love the sea.
It is to know the words:
vang, preventer and boom (non-exploding),
luff, leech and baggy wrinkles (I kid you not),
Cunningham and screecher (the quiet kind),
topping lift and pulpit (non-sermonising),
Lazy Jacks (but not Jills, as far as I can tell),
jibs and gybes (of both varieties).
It is to understand and obey and
to try to get it right the first time.

To be a sailor, to sail away
is not simply to love the sea.
It is to have eyes that spot
reefs and rocks and wind change;
eyes that see, despite salt
and sun and weariness;
hands and muscles that feel the burn
and work on;
stomachs flexible and self righting;
minds that can plot, re-plot, counter plot
and chart plot,
understand computers, radios, call signs,
wind speed and a thousand wires, taps, pipes,
valves, pumps, washers, nuts, bolts and mystery bits.

To be a sailor, to sail away
is not simply to love the sea.
It is to have the equilibrium to make an eye-splice
and remain of good cheer;
to sit in Customs and Immigration
smile and thank the procrastinators,
the prevaricators and the bloody minded.
It is to live close together, not able to take
anger and frustration for a walk in the park;
It is to cope with knowing and others not knowing;
to learn that sleep and dryness and hot food
are not as essential as your mother said.
It is to savour the days of sunshine,
with breeze of gentle sufficiency,
full sails, sights to see and all rocks and reefs known
and in their rightful place.

To be a sailor, to sail away
is not simply to think you love the sea:
it takes ten times ten thousand hours to learn-

it takes a lifetime.


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI’ve got sailing on the mind lately – we’re about to sail from New Zealand to Fiji in a few days. So this poem by Auckland poet and storyteller Tim Heath is just about right. That’s Tim in the photo, sailing on the good ship Margarita. His friends Bruce and Dinah, owners of Margarita (and noted in the dedication line), are underway on their catamaran as I post this, heading north and east. I’ve never met them, but chances are our paths will cross one day.  I may even meet Tim out there one day. It’s a small world, really, even if it’s a great big ocean.

You can find more about Margarita’s journey at their blog, here. Today they’re one-third of the way there with ‘rollicking seas’. 


More Tuesday poems from the terrific and eclectic mix of Tuesday Poets below. Just click on over to the main hub and see what’s happening. Cross-continental poetry fun.

Tuesday Poem For more Tuesday Poems, go here.

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2 Responses to Tuesday Poem: ‘Margarita #7’ by Tim Heath

  1. Susan Tepper says:

    This stunning poem just gripped me. I’m such a little sailor (bays and quiet water), and so admire what is said here in this honest voice.

  2. It’s almost an epigram for life. So many senses in use so many instincts, so much learning. An aaaaah poem! Thanks for sharing and safe sailing to you all 🙂

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