Michael Heller & Jane Joseph



Michael Heller

WITHIN THE OPEN LANDSCAPES

words for the etchings of Jane Joseph


Jane Joseph, Footbridge, 1986. Etching, 13 x 19.9 cm. Courtesy of the Artist
Jane Joseph, Footbridge, 1986. Etching, 13 x 19.9 cm. Courtesy of the Artist

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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.

.

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Jane Joseph, Dividing River, 1985. Etching, 13 x 19.9 cm.  Courtesy of the Artist
Jane Joseph, Dividing River, 1985. Etching, 13 x 19.9 cm. Courtesy of the Artist

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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.

.

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Jane Joseph, The Meadows, Leaning Tree, 1984. Etching, 15.3 x 23.1 cm.  Courtesy of the Artist
Jane Joseph, The Meadows, Leaning Tree, 1984. Etching, 15.3 x 23.1 cm. Courtesy of the Artist

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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.

.

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Jane Joseph, Plot, 1986. Etching, 14.5 x 20.3 cm.  Courtesy of the Artist
Jane Joseph, Plot, 1986. Etching, 14.5 x 20.3 cm. Courtesy of the Artist

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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.

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Jane Joseph, Sycamore, 2001. Drypoint, 10.5 x 14.1 cm.  Courtesy of the Artist
Jane Joseph, Sycamore, 2001. Drypoint, 10.5 x 14.1 cm. Courtesy of the Artist

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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.

.

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Jane Joseph, Hammersmith Bridge, 1992. Etching, 12.4 x 10.8 cm.  Courtesy of the Artist
Jane Joseph, Hammersmith Bridge, 1992. Etching, 12.4 x 10.8 cm. Courtesy of the Artist

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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.

.

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Jane Joseph, Feather (from "The Truce"), 2002. Etching, 16.3 x 12.5 cm.  Courtesy of the Artist
Jane Joseph, Feather (from “The Truce”), 2002. Etching, 16.3 x 12.5 cm. Courtesy of the Artist

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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.

.

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Jane Joseph, Thistle, 2001. Drypoint, 13.9 x 9.7 cm.  Courtesy of the Artist
Jane Joseph, Thistle, 2001. Drypoint, 13.9 x 9.7 cm. Courtesy of the Artist

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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.