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  • My mind makes pictures when you talk. I'm going to leave that in the present tense, in case I see you again. I wonder if it will keep doing that. I mean, it makes pictures for all kinds of other reasons. But it happened a lot around you.

    One morning in November 2008, my phone rang. I was dead asleep after a long night of painting. I answered the call.
    “Yo. It’s Michael. I am getting on a plane to Scotland in two hours and I’ve lost my map of the Night. Is it at your house?”

    What is a map of the Night? I wondered to myself. How the hell would I know if I had one in my house, if I don't even know what it is?

    I started to wonder if I could make a map of the Night. And I started to think I might need one real soon. (What materials would it require? Would it be like a pirate treasure map? a star map? Instead of jumping right into it, and coming up with an easy small answer, I decided to see what would happen if I just left the idea alone for a while – to see how big it would get.)

    Eventually, (when I least expected it) things started to happen. It occurred to me that a map of the Night should be somewhat portable, and also durable. It should be literal, and yet also metaphorical. (Wait – how is that even possible?) It felt like I was watching something being created, instead of making it myself. Just like walking out into the Night without a headlamp, I couldn’t see two steps in front of me.

    My map of the Night turned out to be a quilt that I can fold up and put in my backpack if necessary. And it actually includes two types of maps: a star map and a mind map. I chose the constellation Ursa Major (whose tail is the Big Dipper) because during winter nights in Jackson Hole, it’s right overhead. On top of the star map is layered a sort of mind map, made from various poems about the Night.

    Turns out you were looking for a new book of poetry by David Wagoner.
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