Stephanie Tom

The Floor is Lava

& clouds are candy floss. The ocean is ankle-deep
if you only wade three steps in. You can sail across

the sky in a week & still be home by sunset. I am in love
with flight but terrified of the space between breaths.

Isn’t it funny how we choose to romanticize our fears?
Jade says cowardice is courage if you close your eyes

& I am almost inclined to believe her. The sun glows
behind my eyelids when I do & if I listen carefully,

the wind seems to stop when I stop breathing. I learned
about the impossibilities of rationale when I was six &

tumbled head-over-heels over a skateboard down a hill.
I never told anyone before, but I wished I wasn’t

awake for it; spinning endlessly, aimlessly enough
to spiral into adulthood without the fear of growing up.

I bet that’s how Alice felt when she fell down
the rabbit hole, swallowed in the depths of the earth.

How would it feel to swell in your own body
& without knowing how much you’re capable of?

How long would it take for you to eclipse the sun until
you stop knowing & the light is all you can see?

How long until you’ll never know the difference
between the present & the future?

The future beckons me down the rabbit hole & suddenly
I can see the stars again as they lead me to the sky.


Stephanie Tom is a Chinese-American poet and a student at Cornell University. Her poetry has appeared in Rising Phoenix Review, Hypertrophic Literary, Tinderbox Poetry Journal, and Luna Luna Magazine, among other places. In addition, she has previously been recognized by the national Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, the International Torrance Legacy Creativity Awards, and the international Save the Earth Poetry Contest.

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