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after a while

after a while published on

my note: according to the research i’ve done, this poem has been attributed to two authors, and i don’t rightfully know which one truly wrote it; jorge luis borges or veronica. all i know is the first time i came across it was in the first tender-at-the-bone, aching, puffy-eyed, zombie-brained weeks and months post first serious relationship apocalypse. in the decades since, i find new comfort in it somewhere every time i think to pull it out and read it again; at every earth-shattering or pond-rippling crossroads. it’s nearly committed to memory now. so here it is, presented in the condition i found it in. i hope you, too, find comfort in it. and answers to questions you dare not ask aloud. warmth and light to you.

(Author’s note: This poem has been plagiarized, bastardized, renamed, reworded, redesigned and reduced. But it is my work, which I wrote at the age of 19 and had published in my college yearbook. Why anyone would want to claim it is beyond me, but for what it’s worth, I wrote it, and if I’d known it was going to be this popular, I’d have done a better job of it. – V.S.)

After a while you learndecorate your own soul
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 ahead
with the grace of a woman, not the grief of a child
and you learn
to build 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 awhile 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
you really are strong
you really do have worth
and you learn
and you learn
with every goodbye, you learn…
© 1971 Veronica A. Shoffstall