Alison Knowles - "Bread and Water"

from Bread and Water

by Alison Knowles

The Amazon at Belé m

     High forest liana to divide a valley       nuts to rubber

        Plumed grass        a gold and rock salt river

Outside Don Pecho and the Sea

     To fertilize the granite shallows in dry season

myriad tormenting insects rage the course

Draw up low the inundation of a bad Pass    tiny ten knot steamers

     Lichens as puffy corals grown the ground

     all species considerable

Annual high density valuables travel the motor road

     Sediments clearly express the rapids of white water

Weathered diversity enhanced by micronutrients

     Narrows or Pongos    no less missionary the little steamer

Lewis and brother-in-law to Matthew slave and wealth the rubber

Backwater latex trade expands three million miles

Andes to the Amazones woman an independent kingdom and a queen

To use the bow there is some indication only a single breast

Moon worship or the goddess is Diana

     Asiatic Artemis herself an Amazon

Particularly water to Atlantic at Belem    this longest river

on the earth is unknown at the source

     From dusk a million bats fan out the night

Morning and evening raucous voice the Toucan     clatter music

     streamside bush      goatsucker and the white whippoorwill

Giant armadillo and the second also eaten capybara

             Through time the hangnets huge to watch and wait

With night alert to work in dead tree trunks   or aerial processions

             Of sand and clay both overlook the steep sea

Deep beds that disappear half east and west

Archipelago level wooded of a hundred humid days

    Into Brazil from Para a scanty nomad tribe in thirsty possession

a vast and great display of reefs nineteen in number

Boiling torrent whirlpool swell     Brazil uncertain

Three rafts American in August frightful torrents this the Orinoco

Pongo Maseriche only the gods ascend is the tradition

    water as river-torn

Ascend the Andes reaching is so gentle

Lake Como at Belagio

A railway line runs western shore the Lake Lugano

          while at the southern end is Lecco by extremity the sea

Being a surviving witness to an ancient limestone bed cut
through remarkably

          The Lake with two arms   Como at the bay

     Breva wind blows from the south
making an Alpine sung by Virgil afternoon

Two Plinys in a morning celebration to

     shores now bordered the most lovely spot Bellagio

        High promontory is exposed to    storms by north Tivano
winds  small villages that line the lake

              Adda splendid beauty finds its way to join the Po
Two campanile and some good pictures

Como as a business town   episcopal see of Lombardy is reached
by rail

Yangtze from Lake Dongting to the Yellow Sea

Refer to earth
Compare ten thousand things and not five emperors

       Man laboring a reputation only to give it up
No calamity presents with this indeed floodwater life

Time ends at the beginning

       Arable land devoured as swells the city

Never empty is the Yangtze

All the waters in the Yellow River

       Sitting with heaven and earth not for one anthill
Breathing yin to yang on one small tree
       Nine province mountain grain

Boats and carts pass once rice paddy landscape

       Smiling she now positions stones within the golf course for
the villa where just last year she planted rice

A China now of bodyguards

        "No indeed" says Jo of the north sea Lord of the River
"Who debates such matters what is small or large    the point of view 
regards a thing as big.  I myself am not aware of how the thing 

       Gullies canyonsize gouge famous yellow earth of loess soil
fluffy texture and fertility

Old Yellow River fantasy a rural tapestry

The Yellow Sovereign known as the Daoist-alchemist of Han myth approaches a hut near the Eastern Islands of the Sea. The painting has a mystic waterfall imbued with the force of the mountains which drop into space from an unidentified source. The water's activity in the foreground is more true to life and the flow of the river more natural in an area beyond the painting. Although the artist Shao Mi was probably confined to his bed at the time and in no condition to climb mountains, he painted a continuing path which did not end even in the last painting of the series.

"No indeed" says Jo of the North Sea "the small tip of a hair will
do. Comprehend the level road as not paltry."

Know the lucky, see the tortoise shell and draw the stalk

Inner man no entrance from without    no implement

The Tao speaks and speech stops    the road of many names without

       Streams flowing to perfection       The dogs bark well.

Overview of Shikoku

Fourth in the islands rural
       sees no travelers if time permits
Pilgrim temples marked by roadsigns      walking all in white 
across the greater whirlpools of Naruta strait follow the 
temple road      enhanced by inquiries of planting

              Ferry from Shima     jikokuhyu guide
       Ritsurinkoen garden
Takamatsou     ship has service planned from Honshu and Kyushu 
another will eventually link
          all greater whirlpools shown on current service
With puppets from Osaka join the crazy dance again that goes 
the whole night

          No travel time permits the pillars and the earth forms
Sakura space in cherry trees are rather off the beaten track
A fine view of the sea
Happy to introduce the guests to zen
          high above and over the Inland sea Silver Beach the 
northmost point
          Follow me the legend to the cave of Momotaro    only a boy 
Followers   they say   a pheasant, dog and monkey entered there 
subdue    a den of demons
          tip the wildness for a lighthouse with small rocks 
quarried in the middle

tram by gardens           Hoodoos like Alberta 
forms like human      earthworks seen by double decker bridge 
and seashells sold at reasonable prices
          walking especially in Spring the pilgrimage of Edo 
sixty days to do        the gate remains

by bus the lookout there provides shaped weathering in stone
       the leaves in numbers are especially fine
Shodo Island is by motor car with wild monkeys
       Buddhist pilgrims west in the winter walk     mittens and
leggings       many rivers over
       A pleasant promenade of red pines Miramoto Clan
Pilgrim at the Dogo spa
       an infant Emperor flees further west
Ocean legend of the treasure diver in the Noh play

Chemicals are special here as well as ships and processed foods

experience is beauty best and from the air
Dragon fabric universe and serpent egg

               A kind of round not folding fan the specialty

Copyright © 1995 by Alison Knowles

from Bread and Water by Alison Knowles. Left Hand Books, 1995. 70 pp. $18.00.


While baking bread for herself and friends, Alison Knowles became fascinated by the cracks, depressions, and bumps in the bread's surfaces. She photocopied the bread and then made palladium prints from the xeroxes. In the process, she noticed that the patterns in the bread resembled waterways: rivers with their related lakes, marshes, etc. She analyzed maps to find river systems that matched the patterns in the bread. She used the templates to edit words and phrases from literary and naturalist sources in her texts. The portions of four of the prints with the images of bread are presented here along with their associated poems.

— K.Y.

Light and Dust @ Grist Mobile Anthology of Poetry.