The most beautiful iceberg lay one-quarter of a mile to starboard of our course, the most westerly of a line of tabular bergs, and huge. Big enough for a village to live on its rectangular top hgh above the sea.
At the base, on the southern side, was a thick line of white, the ice fractured by swell and surf. The berg rose above it in a great wall, pale, palest grey against the low, sky=covering cloud, nearly invisible above the blackened-pewter sea.
From a distance, as the light gradually fell, delicate vertical stripes appeared, a nuanced bar code as if to tell the berg’s provenance, its age and journey from whatever glacier gave it form. Maybe the stripes were delicate cracks, deep fissures, indicating where the great berg will split. If an iceberg calves in the ocean where no ships wiill watch, does its thunder sound?
Closer, the stripes dissolved. Instead, the surfaces of the berg (for now we could see two sides of the giant cube) were curved and rounded, random bulges like unshaped marble, a plinth for an emperor cut in grey and white, left rough on the faces to remind us of the raw roots of strength.
At moments the iceberg almost disappeared, a perfect match for the couds, before it stepped forward again, indifferent to our limited perceptions, still itself sailing in the currents. The evening grew darker as it fell away aft, invisible save to radar and no longer any danger to us. It was so complete; we saw no growlers or bergy bits, no smaller ice floating around us, no evidence at all of the behomoth’s slow, slow journey to disintegration.