Big puff


By Betty Robbie


‘See that big puff coming?’

Your words in my voice,

Delivered to my 5 year old charges,

On your water,

80 years later.


‘You’re pinching!’

‘Pull it in, ease out until it luffs,’

‘Hike out, let everything go before you capsize.’

‘Sit forward, less drag in your stern,’

‘Pull up the centerboard, more speed before the wind.’

‘Can you make the mark?’

‘Look midship, when the mark passes midship, tack.’


Frostbiting in your 80s,

Still teaching ‘youngsters’ a thing or two.

Enthusiasm never diminishing.

Passing on a passion.


Salt water in my veins reminds me,

In case I forget who I am, what is important.

Progress takes a capsize, two or three.

Like the Periwinkle, powered by the big puff, tacking to the finish line.


Betty Robie, a closet poet for 40 years, learned to sail on the Periwinkle, built by her father 65 years ago. This is her first published poem. She lives in Vineyard Haven, a few steps from her beloved Vineyard Sound.

Welcome back to the Poet’s Corner. In case you need an idea for a new poem, the prompt for January poems is: Beginnings. Please submit poems to