Marie de France, translated Judith P. Shoaf ©1991
The adventure in my next tale
The Bretons made into a lai
Called “Laustic,” I’ve heard them say, In Brittany; in French they call
The “laustic” a “rossignol”
And in good English, “nightingale.”
Near St. Malo there was a town
(Somewhere thereabouts) of great renown.
My mother died this past February. She was 92. My father died in 1985. He had been a medic during World War II. He landed in Normandy three days after the initial invasion picking up the dead and wounded from the beaches through France and into Germany. His last assignment was at a concentration camp. I don’t know where as he never spoke of it. My mother said he had nightmares for a long while after the war ended and he returned home. He would wake up screaming, “They all want their moms.”
Every hour, she thinks, someone for whom the war was a memory falls out of the world.
—From All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
I just finished reading Doerr’s sad but lovely book about a blind girl, a mechanical wizard and two lives caught in an inexplicable time. Much of the book takes place in St. Malo-an historic town almost completely destroyed by the Allies in 1944. If you haven’t read this award-winning novel yet—you must.