Veronica A. Shoffstall

**********************
 After a while you learn
 the subtle differences 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 you decorate your own soul
 instead of waiting for someone
 to bring you flowers.

 And you learn that you really can endure
 you really are strong
 you really do have worth
 and you learn
 and you learn

 with every goodbye, you learn...