Canvas

for teens, by teens

Canvas Teen Literary Journal is published quarterly in print, ebook, web, video, and audio formats.

What It Looks Like

Olivia Belliveau


music falling like rain and
all of us dreaming like falling,
you in the backseat and
me in the sky
this is what
                   bliss
looks like

and by extension
ignorance


and you are somebody’s
white picket fence,
somebody’s favorite shirt,
somebody’s grandmother’s watch,
somebody’s welfare check,
somebody’s dying breath
and the hand to hold it in,
somebody
this is what
                    comfort
looks like


and wearing our truth when
hands and voices and
walls and floors and
futures and pasts and
sometimes and nowheres
all are shaking
this is what
                   strength
looks like


and it is dangerous to believe that
all you’ve held in your hands
have left answers
for the wheres—
                  have we come from
                  to go next
                  has the time gone
and the whos—
                  the last
                  and the next
                  and you
exploring anyway—no
compass, no maps, just
you and your North Star
this is what
                 courage
looks like


and I’m all unfinished ends and
loose business,
blushing at talent, not
your eyes, your arms,
when I said I wanted
to have it all, I lied—
it was just you
this is what
                 desire
looks like


and with only words I’ve been
straying and praying and
braiding the small things
together and trying to
find some glowing heart
in every day
this is what
                 religion
looks like
on me


and somewhere there is
a porch light on and
I could swear it’s yours,
I can’t get close enough
to tell, or to tell you that
you could be my
white picket fence
this is what
                 longing
looks like


and I feel months
worrying into my joints,
clocks in my muscles and
calendar-weary numbers
tossed like dice in my mind and
I am still a child
this is what
                  humility
looks like


and you will love the person
who bends
when you don’t ask them to,
who fits their existence into
post office boxes or
doggie doors or
wall sockets—spaces
you carved without words,
because they know
you need them to
this is what
                     sacrifice
looks like
and you will mistake it
for compromise


and some people don’t know
how their next meal got
from God’s will to
their plate but
their tears will tell
the old kitchen table wood
a thousand thank-yous
and you will forget
your mother’s birthday
this is what
                      privilege
looks like


and maybe someone else
can be all Capital Letters
and silver and gold and
birdcages and tattoos
and we can be
so quiet
and we can
speak with our eyes
and make knots with
our fingers to hold
everything together
this is what
                     maturity
looks like


and one day
there will be someone
who asks for
no explanations,
who has seen
a world in different colors
than mine
and paints it just the same
that is what
                      love

looks like
that is what        
                       love
will look like


and I hope I won’t have
to look
to know it’s there.


Olivia Belliveau is seventeen years old and attends Bunnell High School in Stratford, Connecticut. Her work has been published in Penworks literary journal through the Trumbull Arts Festival. She has also received recognition from the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards. Olivia learned so much from her time spent at the New York State Summer Young Writers' Institute and the Champlain College Young Writers' Conference.

© Canvas Literary Journal 2016
Writers & Books
Rochester, NY