Maze or Labyrinth?

These are photos of the shadow of a man working on our roof, which had to be replaced due to hail damage.  He looks like some imaginary creature pounding and waving, like a moving silhouette.

In the current issue of the Weekly Avocet, a journal of nature poetry, there is a poem of mine called Yellow Falls.  The poem is toward the end of the newsletter.  It’s about how the dazzle of yellow in autumn foretells the coming winter white. file:///C:/Users/Mary/Downloads/the%20weekly%20avocet%20-%20%23202%20(1).pdf

This week I learned the difference between a maze and a labyrinth in a description by Rebecca Solnit in her book, The Faraway Nearby.  Here’s what she says:

A labyrinth is an ancient device that compresses a journey into a small space, winds up a path like thread on a spool…it is the opposite of a maze, which has not one convoluted way but many ways and often no center…A maze is a conversation; a labyrinth is an incantation or perhaps a prayer…The end of the journey through the labyrinth is not at the center…but back at the threshold again:  the beginning is also the real end.

She goes on to compare a labyrinth to a spool of thread and to words and lines in a book.  “Imagine all the sentences in this book as a single thread around the spool that is a book”

These lines are a lovely coincidence since I recently prepared a tour of work by Katherine Kuehn who stitches words – poems, correspondence, journal entries – onto cloth and who turned to a ribbon as the ground for a page long, one-line poem.  The exhibit was called Close Reading:  Sewn Works. She, too, talked about the spooling and unspooling of words and how appropriate a ribbon is as the vehicle for words to flow.

Seasons are also a kind of labyrinth since we always come back to where we started.  The end of summer becomes the beginning of winter.  And winter will spool into spring.


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