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St Rumbold’s Well
In Memoriam of the Tuam Babies
by Fiona Perry
I was born in a field blazing with corncrake call
A seed released from its casement.
The hedgerows ripped from top to bottom
When I burst into the light, entered
The grass agora, the humming meadow.
I became a pebble by virtue of my
Swaddling clothes. The still nugget in the stream
Perturbed by nothing except the hidden
Whirlpool in my throat compelling me
To shout toothlessly, “I am, I am, I am.”
On my second day, more words flew out
Into the spotless blue like so many
Startled starlings. I asked my parents to wash me
In a baptismal font while I mused aloud on the
Trinitarian nature of God. Soon I grew accustomed
To the look of wonderment on adult faces.
On my third day, after a word-perfect recitation
Of The Sermon on The Mount, I informed
An ever-growing congregation, of my
Impending departure – mere hours away.
The scent of lady’s bedstraw and marjoram
Coddling me to sleep against the rise and fall
Of my mother’s soft sobbing. I saw water locked
Underground, gleaming like mercury, near
My future burial site. I knew to swim through
It into a well, floating higher, lifted and
Tossed like a paper boat by the whispering
Waves of a baby chorus: Did you do it?
Did you speak for us? Did you tell the faithful,
All the priests, and cardinals:
Whoso shall hurt one of these little ones
It were better for him that a millstone were
Hanged about his neck, and that he were
Drowned in the depth of the sea?
Solemnly, I told my tiny brothers and
Sisters, our stories have been infused in
Raindrops, they run like hounds in the rivers
And oceans, sit tight as unexploded bombs in
Still water. Hold tight, because a tsunami of
Mothers’ tears is forming and it will right all wrongs.