How old is old enough to serve, to protect?
Wide, soft brown
eyes that radiate guileless youth
exuberance and sparkle with curiosity
determination and ruthless stubbornness.
How young is too young to fight for right?
A jaw covered
with the soft, pale hair of youth
Does little to
redeem an unlined, unmarked face
Both hide a firm,
How innocent is too gullible for sense?
with boundless enthusiasm
Trying to prove
untried and newly acquired skills
hide a keen intelligence and surprising ability.
But innocence can vanish, never to be regained
A single bullet that is first blood first kill
The shot misfired that causes collateral damage
Each one rips away some of the innocence so precious.
Youth slowly, steadily retreats as times passes
The fine, flawless skin forms lines of laughter and pain
The softness becomes coarse, ground down by age and experience
Until youth remains only in the heart, spirit, and attitude.
As time passes, youth flees, innocence vanishes
Branding the eyes, robbing the naiveté, erasing their spark
Dulling the guileless exuberance
That once were the trademarks of the young.
The man who matured out of the boy
Now holds his curiosity in check but never forgets it
His exuberance is tapped as a source of boundless energy
The stubbornness and determination are unchanged.
As his gullibility fades, he hides his remaining innocence from view
The untried skills are now steady, proven, and true
The boundless enthusiasm is still there, but dampened
And his intelligence and ability shine forth.
Like facets of a brilliant stone that only appear
With the skilled strokes of a master jewelsmith
So the youth becomes a man grown into his full potential
Under the watchful, guarded eyes of his companions.