Columbus Opens the Americas to the World

Columbus Opens the Americas

At first you could make out only dim flashes where the tall seas broke.

But as the light grew toward daybreak the rearing crests following the Bloodhound gleamed white with Alpine splendor.

We sat quiet in the cockpit, awed by the scene and breathing deep of the salt air, cool and crisp just before the dawn,

Columbus Opens the Americas to the World as the hurrying yawl drove on, beating out her own frosty track across the sea.

The waves move, but the water they’re composed of stays still, so a ship leaves its track on the face of the water,

while the waves roll by, traveling faster than any ship.

One steers with an eye out for the breaking wave-where all at once the water itself gets into avalanching motion.

Or as Joseph Conrad said of Singleton at the helm of the ship Narcissus in like case:

“He steered with care.” Judy Wyatt, our helmsman aboard the Bloodhound,

was entranced with the frothing bubbles that raced by when a wave broke astern of us.

“It’s like sailing in champagne!” Then all at once a taller sea reared up among these steep moving hills of water, a black obsidian shape against the eastern sky.

As it neared it grew taller and its top became a brilliant icy greenthe light was shining right through it. “Judy,” I said, “hang on.

This one’s not going to miss.” And then it was upon us, a sudden blackness,

and roaring in one’s ears, and a giddy weightlessness—one forgot where one was.

One didn’t seem to feel the wetness of the water; its total embrace knocked one’s sensory systems out of kilter,

Columbus Opens the Americas to the World and I found myself picturing.

the placid green fields of England which we had left only a few weeks before.

We seemed to be dealing with ultimate things, and as light and breath returned, sprawled at an uncomfortable angle against a sheet winch,

I found myself smiling: I believed, and believe today,

I had found the answer to the scholarly question of why it was reported of the dying Falstaff that he “babbled of green fields.”

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