The Floor is Lava

By Leanne Moden

so, I furl my knees to my chest,
adrift on a raft the same shape as my settee. Burn-

ing rocks singe the carpet, radiating out like sites
of infection. I never liked the colour anyway

but fear is fire-resistant, like cheap sofa cushions,
and plague ships are never welcome in any port.

My mouth is burning again. The corner shop delivers
booze now; but alcohol only fuels the flames, even as

it quenches the thirst to flee from them. When we
were little, we used to play this game at the local

pool: a volcano at the deep end. The worst thing
already half-way to happening as we swam away

from disaster. But the pool is closed now, just
another site of virus transmission. And we can’t

swim through lava. Not when every ship that’s sailed
so far has been wrecked before she reached the shore.

There is no cure. The temperature shifting ceaselessly.
Maybe, when the magma cools, the going will be good

again. After all, not everyone has a raft like mine.
This is fine, I say, as the flames lick the skirting board.

Everything’s going to be fine.

Leanne Moden, poetry and covid

Leanne Moden is a poet, based in Nottingham. She’s performed at events across the UK and Europe, and her second pamphlet was published by Burning Eye Books in 2020.

This piece was inspired by the sense of isolation and overwhelm that I felt during lockdown. ‘The floor is lava’ is a game where you have to cross a room without touching the carpet, climbing over sofas, chairs, tables and anything else you can in order to avoid the lava and certain death. This felt a little bit like the situation we were suddenly faced with, having to drastically alter our paths in order to avoid inflection and spread of disease. 

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Shreya Sen Handley
1 year ago

Vivid and arresting but also relatable!

Andrew Button
Andrew Button
1 year ago

A striking poem, Leanne. I like the way you have taken a childhood game as a metaphor for the Pandemic. The penultimate line summaries, chillingly, how you are feeling.

1 year ago

Lovely imagery and references to fire, flames, lava. This line is great: ‘but alcohol only fuels the flames, even as it quenches the thirst to flee from them’.

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