The Robotic Sailboat - Poem by Patti Masterman
There is a man lost in the ocean
Imprisoned by the giant waves, trying to toss him
From his small lifeboat. He clings for life to the raft.
When suddenly- there! on the horizon,
A small skiff, or is it a sailboat?
He fights within himself for a moment- a skiff might make
For a faster rescue, but a sailboat could linger
Long enough to spot his imminent disaster-
He begins to wave his soggy shirt, frantically.
The boat comes closer. It is a sailing yacht,
Manned by robots; it's been all over the news,
The newest darling of the fickle world.
They are out to set a world record.
The whole world is watching their progress.
'Help me! ' he yells triumphantly. The boat continues
It is close enough now, he can see some blinking lights,
Some motion detectors, that the motions of the sails awaken.
Strangely there seems to be nothing recognizable as human on board.
The main robot, the one shown on the news, has a metal body
With only head and shoulders, attached atop the helm, steering stoically.
As the boat glides past the shipwrecked man,
It's head turns once and a whirring noise announces
That a photo has been taken. The head turns forward again.
The boat slowly passes from view.
The man sobs, unashamedly.
'My only chance..gone, gone! '
A month later the boat's creators look at the stream of captures
Made by the robot helmsman.
There looks to be a small raft, with a sunburnt, bedraggled man
Waving a sheet. Experts are called in, and after hours of debate,
They determine it to be an optical illusion, caused by the angle of sun,
Possibly from reflected objects on the sailboat.
The cruise is deemed a success, and the strange capture,
Which was chosen for its strangely enigmatic image,
Goes on the cover of hundreds of thousands of books, memorializing forever
The first around the world sailing trip made entirely by robots.
The man passes out eventually, falls overboard
And is eaten by some hungry sharks, shirt and all.
They burp small pieces of checkered cloth for a day,
And soon nothing is left of the man
But an empty raft.
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