In the fanciful engravings of nautical charts, I have seen sailors ascending a spiral staircase rising from the sea. This passageway to paradise is oft depicted as a corkscrew of stars. Such imagistic flourish on a map might communicate the presence of a deadly whilrpool, an impenetrable strait, a patch of sirens, a corridor wherein death awaits. Or it might simply mean the edge of the world. The picture really talks. Both the stairs and the stars are notable: for sailors it must have been hard to imagine any voyage that wasn't precarious, but alluring.
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