After a While

After a while you learn the subtle difference between holding a hand 

and chaining a soul

and you learn that love doesn’t mean leaning 

and company doesn’t mean security

and you begin to learn that kisses aren’t contracts 

and presents aren’t promises

and you begin to accept your defeats with your head up and your eyes open

 with the grace of an adult, not the grief of a child

and you learn to build all your roads on today 

because tomorrow’s ground is too uncertain for plans.

After a while you learn that even sunshine burns if you get too much.

So plant your own garden and decorate your own soul 

instead of waiting for someone to bring you flowers.

And you learn that you really can endure . . . 

that you really are strong

and you really do have  worth.

And you learn and you learn . . . 

with every good­bye you learn. . . .

Veronica A. Shoffstall

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