Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Week 34: Map of a Night Sky

   The book-of-the-week for Week 34, Map of a Night Sky, is a poem, letterpress printed on handmade abaca paper and bound as a stiff leaf book. Its cover is a collagraph print in white ink on black handmade paper.

the book
   The book is housed in a pouch-like case of loose weave flocked linen lined in green silk. In medieval times books housed in this sort of book covering were called girdle books, pouch books, pouch napkins, or pocket books. The term girdle book was specifically used because the book cover had a long extension which tied to the belt (girdle) of the user. Girdle books still in existence from those times are very rare, though they are depicted in a number of paintings from the 1400's and 1500's.

detail from The Visitation, 1490

To read more about girdle books, see the article, "Girdle Books"  ( or Margit Smith and Jim Bloxam's article, "The Medieval Girdle Book Project" in the International Journal of the Book (

in its fabric girdle book case

the girdle book cover with button and macrame flax closure
the girdle book pouch cover
When Map of the Night Sky is removed from its girdle book pouch, it can be read or opened and displayed as a moon-like sculpture.

reflecting the moon...
   The poem was letterpress printed on handmade abaca paper with 14-point Bookman type and black ink. An edition of two books were printed. A second edition of four books was printed on Magnani Velata mouldmade paper with the handmade abaca paper for the title page.

title page
This is the poem...

In this darkness 
there is
a boundless quantity of light…
It illuminates the footpath 
of time
and space
and energy 
and God.
It is all there 
in the map of a night sky.

And there,
Lamp of the Night,
shines the moon
a white slice cut 
from a sparkling black drape.
God or Goddess, worshipped 
from the first night...

Called Luna, Selene, Phoebae, Artemis, Hecate, 
Nanna, Chang’e, Mani, Menily,
Ibis, Chonsu, Tsukuyomi, Ixchel,
Mama Killa, Huitaca, Chia, Coniraya,
Alignak, Pah, Jaci, Metztli, Wadd,
Ta’lab, Nikkal, Napir, Sin,
Ilargi, Artume, Meness, Kuu,
Chandra, Ratih, Dae-Soon, or Thoth…

Still wields power over us
pulls the tides,
marks the days,
shadows the psyche, 
and watches over all the Earth
with Her one good eye.

In this infinity
there is a calmness
in the silent twinkling of a 
million trillion stars
some shining bright
some a dim flicker, 
some only a ghost… 

Polaris, Ceres, Saturn, 
Venus, Mercury, Mars,
Cassiopeia, Cancer, and all the Zodiac,
the Milky Way, Pleiades, and Ursas,
galaxies, astroids, and comets, 
meteors, black holes and red dwarfs,
the rising constellations 
and the falling stars…

Painted on the walls of caves
ten million years ago, 
chiseled in stone, scratched in clay,
scribed on animal hides 
and papyrus scrolls,
or rolls of silk, 
or bits of bone.

Still,  it shrouds the earth 
with a new scape each night.

Oracles, beacons, and signposts, 
the map of a night sky 
guides the adventurers,
delivers the seekers,
and for every person, 
pierces the darkness
with a sort of hope.

The End

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