Eilmer the monk's magic sandals

Short Stories May 19, 2021

Eilmer the monk of Malmesbury am I,
Reputedly I am the first man to fly,
Daedalus and Icarus were legends you’ve read,
But the myths of the Greeks were just in their head.

See, I’m not a myth, I’m real flesh and blood,
Serving the Lord, tilling the mud,
In the abbey’s gardens in Malmesbury dear friends,
My service and vows were just means to an ends.

For the glory of God, and his beauty and might,
I’d show Saxons and Vikings the science of flight,
I’d float on a breeze, bird-like and free,
Embracing the science of 1023.

Strapped to my limbs were crude fashioned wings.
I trusted the Lord with the science of things,
Like gravity, physics, flight paths and more,
I’d leap from stone tower, beat wings and soar.

Slowly I clambered stone stairs in the tower,
My brotherly monks of the abbey did cower,
Imploring me, begging me not to proceed,
With a plan so rash it could never succeed.

They wailed, they lectured, “You’re out of your mind,
Our God hasn’t gifted wings to mankind!
Only to creatures with true wings and feather,
Your wings are mere fabric and tied on with leather!”

Stepping boldly to parapet’s edge with no heed,
My belly was filled with two tankards of mead,
Then lifting my cassock, I climbed on the ledge,
And gingerly peered o’er that frightening edge.

The River Avon gurgled below,
Beckoned me, called me, to step forward and show,
Those true disbelievers, that it could be done,
I said a quick prayer and launched with a run.

But I had a secret, the monks didn’t know,
An angel’d appeared, perhaps three months ago,
I was drunken on mead, it must be confessed,
But that angel assured me… my sandals were blessed.

They’d give me the strength, the nerve and willpower,
To take that terrible leap from the tower,
My sandals would guide and protect my flight,
My sandals would save my life from that height.

The monks on the tower gasped in fright,
And true to its word, the angel was right,
I soared for a moment, though it seemed very quick,
Then gravity won and I dropped like a brick.

Above me the Abbot and brothers all peered,
Down at the crumple of wings that had sheared
From arms which had frantically thrashed about,
I screamed as I crashed, in pain, and blacked out.

I’m Eilmer the monk, recalling my fail,
Could I’ve flown further if I’d strapped on a tail?
But two broken legs have left me quite lame,
And the peasants of Malmesbury scoff at my name.

Unable to walk, from now ‘til I die,
I sadly think flying’s just pie in the sky,
I drink barrels of mead, and ruin my liver,
And my magic sandals?…. Despatched to the river!

Eilmer the monk of Malmesbury am I,
Tormented and crippled as years have dragged by,
The peasants of Malmesbury have made a name stick,
Cruelly they taunt me as Eilmer the Brick.


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