After A While

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 always 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 ahead.
With the grace of a woman
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
and futures have a way
of falling down in mid flight.
After a while you learn
that even sunshine burns if you get too much.
So you 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 are really strong.
And you really do have worth.
And you learn and you learn
with every good bye you learn.

I read this poem when I was in my early teens and I don’t know why it just popped into my head tonight. It’s still as lovely as I remember it. 

The internet claims it was written by Veronica A. Shoffstall yet I can’t find a single official thing about her. Now I’m really curious. 

UPDATE: A reader wrote me last night and shared this about her:

Veronica A. Shofstall is a member of the Baha’i Faith which teaches that all people are from one race and have been created noble by one God. She has been trying to make sense of the world through words all her life. Now in her mid-40s, she is trying to recapture the wisdom of her youth and learn the lessons expressed in her poem “After A While,” which she wrote at the age of 19. She can be reached at 229 East 25th Street, #4D, New York, NY 10010.

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