Lavinia Kumar

Torn Photograph

Father – your father’s many photos
of hounds and horses
hid one of you and your sister,
a postcard of actress Margery Bryce,
and two sides of a torn photograph –
your mother separated from your father.

I heard – well into my adult-hood –
your mother was put in a bleak
Cork mental hospital.
Did your physician father put her away? 
Old news photos show
mattress-strewn floors, scattered
ragged clothes, toilet-roll-littered courtyards.
No soap, no toilet seats. Mice.

She died there in 1958.
We should have known
we had a grandmother.
Where’s your shame?

I found two 1940s letters,
from that Cork hospital.
In one, plans for your young wife
to visit your mother.
The other, urgent request for money –
your mother’s need of eggs,
milk, tea, rice, sugar,
               I wonder if you sent it.

About the author
Lavinia Kumar
has published 3 books (most recent, No Longer Silent: the Silk and Iron of Women Scientists, 2019) and 4 chapbooks (most recent, Beauty. Salon. Art., Desert Willow Press, 2019). Latest poems are in River Heron Review, Hole in the Head Review, Decolonial Passage, Minerva Rising, Superpresent, & SurVision. Her website is

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