Rivers of Saris


Product Description

poems by

Lavinia Kumar

Poetry chapbook, 50 pages, cover price $11

($7 if ordered from the MSR Online Bookstore)

ISBN: 978-1-59948-399-3

Release date: 2013


About The Author



Lavinia Kumar

Lavinia Kumar is a poet, sometime writer (self-published) of children’s fiction books about scientists, and surreal artist. Her poetry has appeared in several US and UK publications such as Ascent Aspirations, Atlanta Review, Orbis, Pedestal, Poetry24, and US1 Worksheets. She also writes a frequent blog for and is one of the editors of children’s poetry at PoetryWITS. She is originally from Ireland, her husband from India: they met in a Chemistry lab at Boston University. Her degrees are way off the literary mark–in Chemistry, Biology and then Science and Technology Education–but there are literary ancestors in one of her closets.

Her website is


Lavinia Kumar’s lush, sensuous poems skillfully evoke the India with which she has lived for over 46 years, with all its exotic landscapes and particular customs. But they also exist on a much deeper level than that of delicately wrought observations-running through the weave of this intensely beautiful collection are threads of gentle protest at the cultural role still assigned to women. This is a book to both delight and enlighten as only the best poetry truly can.

–Anna M. Evans,
Editor of The Raintown Review.

When we read Rivers of Saris, we are not tourists in an exotic land of banyan trees and small pooja alcoves and charpoys, but, thanks to the artistry and intelligence of Lavinia Kumar, inhabitants of a country with a rich embroidery of longings and griefs, where “sandal-wood pyres crackle, smoke / wisping
to the clouds, to the angels, who / catch pieces of soul–and teach them to float.” This book offers a geography of and for the soul, and we bathe in its rivers and learn, as souls must, to float.

–Christopher Bursk,
Author of Improbable Swervings of Atoms



India was partitioned on the basis of religion to
form Pakistan and India on 15 August 1947.

A river of blood divides the Land of Five Waters,
rivers from the mountains once crossed by armies, even
Alexander had his battles here, but now the land grows
swords with wheat, and mothers and children hide

among grasses from guns and daggers. The trains roll east
to west and back on steel red canals, men must drop their
pants, their foreskin deciding a quick fate, and families
suddenly worship gods they barely know.

They carry bundles and family jewels packed in pots and pans
strapped to bullocks. Old men are left behind to die on streets,
where they fall, women are left alone with children,
or families are lost among the buffalo carts

and dusty lanes. Young men watch bodies, futures,
traditions burn in blazes of freedom, while ghost trains
steam into stations stuffed with breast-severed women.
Two free nations are born with bleeding wombs,

as men kill their women and children to save them
from capture and rape. Half million people slain
in this gushing birth.

Ripe Fruit

Cup it in my hand

baby’s-head gentle
peel the hard cover
careful of the softness
feel the smooth
green avocado
slide it in my mouth
softer than a petal.

Mango, Indian
esteemed treasure, queen
of wedding fruits,
in chutneys, ice cream.
You slip the knife long
around the ellipse
slice a soft sliver
slide into my mouth
gift from your fingers.
Boat Trip, Udaipur

The boatman, his back
straight, black hair sleek,
shows us to the pier,
his sweeping hand a guide
to the lake–a slight mist

surrounds our unhurried boat
on the flat morning water.
Women wash clothes on steps,
their bright saris flutter on grey stone,
black ducks swim nearby.

The boat quickens to reach
Jag Mindar Palace island,
its white sandstone walls enhanced
by domes built for Shah Jahan
when he was still a prince.

Up steps, a jade pavilion
with black and white marble floor
and white-coated servers
Massage, sir? Menu, madam?
the palace colonized once again.

If you would like to read more of Rivers of Saris by Lavinia Kumar, order your copy today.

SKU: 978-1-59948-399-3 Categories: , Tag:


There are no reviews yet.

Be the first to review “Rivers of Saris”