“How important it is to walk along, not in haste but slowly,
looking at everything and calling out
–Mary Oliver, “Yes! No!”
The coils of this labyrinth remind me of the small intestine. This vexes me. Walking the labyrinth is supposed to be a spiritual experience, isn’t it? Neither time nor place for unlovely images of the body. The truth is that I dislike the labyrinth. I find it too constraining, too tedious—all these looping, repetitive coils. The truth is that I hate the labyrinth because it is pale and remote, and silently indifferent to me. If I am going to engage with something, I’d like for it to talk back, please. I have questions, you know. I have some concerns. And perhaps just one or two small issues with control, and delayed gratification.
“I think serenity is not something you just find in the world, like a plum tree,
holding up its white petals” (Mary Oliver, “Yes! No!”).
“Watch how we encounter each other,” you say, and we walk, slowly, separately. Around one turn we meet, and you kiss me, and your tongue is muscular and wet. Around another turn you say, over your shoulder, “Hello,” and continue walking. It is hard for me to keep my balance even though the path is smooth and flat. I feel like we are in a Magritte painting. Your white shirt glows softly somewhere to the left of my awareness. A voice not connected to your body says, “Do you like my hat?” We are walking. We are together. We are not together.
“Imagination is better than a sharp instrument. To pay attention, this is our endless
and proper work” (Mary Oliver, “Yes! No!”).
Quiet, quiet—the darkness is full.
Your skin is listening
to the night air.
In the center of the labyrinth, someone has placed a gift.
Quiet, quiet—someone is telling you a story.
The oldest story in the world, and his body hums and pulses
under your fingers.
In the center, there is a gift.
Quiet, quiet—this is not walking.
This is surrendering to the path, your body long and outstretched
against the stones.
In the center, someone has placed a gift.
©2010 by Leslie Crowley Srajek