Michael Heller & Jane Joseph
WITHIN THE OPEN LANDSCAPES
words for the etchings of Jane Joseph
1. Doesn’t the picture say
no room in this world for anything more?
If you desire to add something,
you must begin again
and make your own world,
including what has been missing
from the very beginning
of the world.
You must make an enormous effort
to leave this world for that one,
something like dying, if not quite.
Each world is so complete,
terror and emptiness
accompany every effort to leave it.
2. Black parts of things
keep the eye centered on the dark.
At least one can see
a bit of upstanding twig
leads to the branch,
leads along the branch
until the branch
foregrounded before flowing water
invites a sojourn past woods and house
along its banks.
Clouds are always on the move,
and suggest the weather’s alterations.
Darks do no more than keep the eye
centered on the dark.
3. When the things of the world
are so carefully depicted
—when we see such things—
surely we surrender a little, giving
ourselves over to the thing seen.
I have heard others speaking
of the tree’s treeness
or an object’s being.
I have looked,
and each time I experience something
–my own disappearance,
my own failed going-out
to meet the tree,
to meet the object.
Nothing coming back.
4. I can love a picture
but only if it doesn’t love me.
I insist on boundaries.
I can hate a picture
without it hating me.
I don’t insist on boundaries.
5. The branch of the sycamore
forks two ways,
one limb sort of down
and flat across the paper,
the other making an upthrust
so powerful it begins
to curve back on itself
as though the light was the light
of a nourishing self-regard
and the wide-spaced faint scribble
marks that go near the vertical
were the accidental pleas of space itself
warning against hubris.
6. So many bridges, foot, railway, auto,
each obscured by the surrounding designs,
are mythologies of difficult contact.
Or child’s stories where ogres
are secreted in dark patches under pathways
by which we connect.
7. The daffodil hangs its heavy blossomed head.
Wordsworth has shamed you.
And Eliot made the hyacinth
the flower of rebirth
into death’s blossoming
You are lone upon the heath.
You are between realms,
between cliché and astonishment.
8. And let the picture transform you.
Let this thistle put on its fiery fall color,
and let its bunched tufts
resemble a wrathful diety,
and let the corolla be a necklace
of enlaced skulls, and let homage be paid
by the ground underfoot,
its otherness crushing
ego’s unreasonable hectorings,
and let the mind never rest
in the false nirvana of vegetative happiness,
and let the bumble alight,
thick-dusted with the pollen of awareness.