By Katherine Gotthardt 

When in the throes 
of too early morning,
sky flamboyant in darkness,
stars about its forehead 
turning it dizzy 
with its own greatness,
its own vast reach,

it comes to me 
in a thin, tepid current, 
how we are billions 
just like ourselves, 
each with a story to live,
each with life worth telling.

And suddenly I am shaking,
lost in enormity,
alone in negative space,
mammoth perspective
and numbers too high to count.

Here we everyone be, 
sleeping or intrusively awakened,
lights on in the bedroom
or no bedroom at all,
city dweller, villager, 
or solitary traveler,
each beneath thumbs 

of the universe,
casual in everything it offers,
utter randomness 
of good day or bad, 
celebration or abrupt tragedy,
besot with meaning 
or merely one more breath 
exhaled in invisible air. 

Together we stand in the pitch,
eyes toward the same 
supposed heaven,
dubious in our own existence.
Here we are stuck, together, 
energy captured in questions.
Body after corporeal body. 
Always seeking another sunrise. 

Katherine Gotthardt

Katherine Mercurio Gotthardt, M.Ed., writing concentration, hails from the Northern Virginia/D.C. metro area. She considers herself a writer by nature and by trade, having begun writing for fun as soon as her mother helped teach her to read. An active part of the literary community, Katherine is current co-president and a founding member of Write by the Rails (WbtR), the Prince William Chapter of the Virginia Writers Club. Katherine has been a Prince William County Poet Laureate nominee and was the winner of Inside Nova’s 2019 and 2020 Best of Prince William award in the category of author. Her poetry and prose book Get Happy, Dammit: Staying Inspired and Motivated in an Often-Unhappy World received a Silver Award from the Nonfiction Authors Association. Katherine's children’s book, A Crane Named Steve, hit number one in its category on Amazon in 2019. Katherine then took first place in the free verse category of Loudoun County Library Foundation’s 2020 Rhyme On poetry contest for her piece "Discussion Topic." The Prince William Arts Council and Poet Laureate Circle awarded her the 2020 Outstanding Poetry Project Award for her leadership in Write by the Rails' Poems Around Town poetry installation. In 2021 Katherine earned second place for "Aftermath" in a Poetry Society of Virginia national contest and the regional Seefeldt Award for Arts Excellence in the category of Individual Artist. She won first place in the Virginia Writers Club statewide Golden Nib contest in the poetry category for her poem "Kayak." Katherine was recognized as a PW Perspective 2021 DMV Best Business award winner in the category of author. In April 2023, Katherine’s poem “Now Entering Manassas” was the winner of Manassas, Virginia's adult “time capsule” poetry contest. Katherine read her poem at the 150th anniversary celebration, the translated version by Jorge de Villasante was read in Spanish by Bianca Menendez, her poem was published in Neighbors of Historic Manassas magazine, and it was included in the city’s time capsule. While Katherine is well-known for her poetry, she also has established a solid reputation for writing articles, columns and short fiction. She is a full-time writer for a government contracting company and is published in dozens of journals and anthologies. She has authored 12 books: Poems from the Battlefield, Furbily-Furld Takes on the World, Approaching Felonias Park, Weaker Than Water, Bury Me Under a Lilac, Late April, A Crane Named Steve, Get Happy, Dammit, D.C. Ekphrastic: Crisis of Faith, Thirty Years of Cardinals Calling, Get Happier, Dammit and We All Might Be Witches. She uses proceeds from her books to support giving back initiatives.
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