That time in the Mexican mountains,
I said I was being followed.
It wasn’t so much that you listened
(though I loved you for capturing that pic,
casually on the hiking trail,
then later in the cantina –
your face when you saw, yes,
it was the same blond woman
tagging along like a bad hangover).
It was that you believed me.

Someone finally believed me –
no arching eyebrow,
no tongue click,
no somber “I see.”
No, I wasn’t borderline crazy,
no, I wasn’t ordering up attention,
and no matter who claimed later
it was no big deal, or
it was just the State Department, or
she wanted to make sure I wasn’t a smuggler,
it meant more to me that you saw her, too,
trapped truth on camera,
so when next I worried I was losing my mind,
I could look and say, yes.
There’s the SD card.
There’s the evidence.
It isn’t illness,
and it isn’t my fault.

It’s not like I posted on Facebook,
hey! I’m headed to Valle!
Follow me on my journey!
It’s not like I tweeted on the toilet
some strange thirst to be spied on.
I didn’t do Instagram,
so no followers there,
no hashtags, no callouts,
no request for voyeurs or cyberstalkers,
no reality t.v.
No, just someone’s job to follow me,
watch what I was carrying,
paid to listen to my bad Spanish,
see how the trip panned out.

Yo quiero pan con queso, bitch.
What’s it to you?
I’m just here for the culture,
sipping wine and courtesy.
Maybe you need to rethink boundaries.
Maybe you need to find a real criminal.
Go back to your own country’s border,
run your hand along the wall.
Mind the splinters and shards,
this American dream.

Katherine Gotthardt

Katherine Gotthardt, M.Ed., writing concentration, is a founding member of Write by the Rails, the Prince William Chapter of the Virginia Writers Club. She currently serves as President and has twice been nominated for Poet Laureate of Prince William County. She was the winner of InsideNova's 2019 Best of Prince William award in the author category. Katherine considers herself a writer by nature and by trade, having begun writing for fun as soon as her mother helped teach her to read. She has been writing, editing and teaching for more than twenty years. While Katherine's first love is poetry, she also holds an interest in writing articles, columns and short fiction. Besides being published in dozens of print and online journals, she has authored seven books: Poems from the Battlefield, Furbily-Furld Takes on the World, Approaching Felonias Park, Weaker Than Water, Bury Me Under a Lilac, Late April and A Crane Named Steve. On Facebook, dabbles in short pieces that she calls her "social experiment," #KatherinesCoffeehouse. In her "other" life, Katherine is a marketing writer for an IT company and CEO of ATW- All Things Writing. She works with local publications and is Editor in Chief of Prince William Living magazine. Previously, she wrote for Bristow Beat, News & Messenger, Potomac Local, PW Business and the Quantico Sentry. Katherine aims to use her professional background to elevate the practice of writing and give writers a space where they will be recognized as laborers honoring a timeless craft. "Writing is hard work," she says. "I want that work to be valued." Katherine's full profile can be found on LinkedIn.

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