NaPoWriMo #3: Clootie Well


Today I took the NaPoWriMo prompt of writing a wee charm – a simple rhyming poem, in the style of a recipe-slash-nursery rhyme. I don’t usually do rhymes but enjoyed this one; the subject and rhyming create a folky-story type vibe. This poem is about the clootie wells found in Cornwell and some other parts of the country. Clootie wells (also Cloutie or Cloughtie wells) are places of pilgrimage in Celtic areas. They are wells or springs, almost always with a tree growing beside them, where strips of cloth or rags have been left, usually tied to the branches of the tree as part of a healing ritual. It is actually becoming a problem in some places where silly people are tying synthetic fabrics and objects into the trees, which of course don’t degrade (which is the whole point, the rotting and returning to earth of the fabric is what symbolises the healing).

Clootie Well

Bind gently the source of pain 

with a roughly torn strip of wet cloth

soaked through with healing water.

Unwrap the dry fabric again,

and knot to branches hanging over;

Wellness returns in rotting matter.


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