Poem of the Week | St Rumbold’s Well by Fiona Perry

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.


To read more original poetry check out HeadStuff poetry archives. If you would like to submit to HeadStuff please read our submissions page for deadlines and guidelines.

Cover photo by @gebhartyler on Unsplash

You might also like More from author