Historical setting: 6th Century Bordeaux
The city of Bordeaux is barely rising from the ruin of the old Roman civitas of Burdigala. It’s been battered in wars again and again ever since the Romans saw the strategic location and protected it with a wall; but in these times it’s just another example of the lost Roman glory. The larger the city with its ancient grandeur the larger is the ruin of it. And Bordeaux is a magnificent ruin indeed. Here the amphitheater for thousands is a hollow chasm grieving for the long passed whoops of crowd.
August mentioned the reconstruction of a basilica so I follow the flattened roadway cleared by the dragging of large stones. Some builders are working among the stone heaps still formless on the brink of new creation.
August mentioned the Frankish Christians are considering Bordeaux to become an important see, maybe for an archbishop. And this construction is founded in that hope. I inquire of a surgeon but this worker only knows of one who can read who has an old book of remedies. That won’t due. We need a surgeon’s experience. Now it’s clear to me Nic will have to use his blade. I return immediately so they can stop jostling Brother Joel over the rough path with vacant hope.
My ride back echoes thoughts of one who is a physician because he “has an old book of remedies.” But the image in this thought is not of a nameless healer reading from Galen’s book; but now I recall a particular physician I knew well– a foggy image who now rests in my thoughts as a beautiful memory. This woman I seem to have known once is not the wife of my grief, but she is our daughter. When last I saw her she was a young woman trained in healing by a pagan hag who raised her after the plague made her an orphan. She is marked with the pox that took her pagan teacher’s life. In my thought of her she is reading from the medical book the old hag left for her. If it weren’t a hurry to return I would just saunter in these wonderful memories now returned.
At a gallop I meet back with the oxcart still moving slowly northward toward the place where the creek meets the river. I have the news that the city is just as August said but they have no surgeon with any better recommendation than Nic’s own blade.