-Katherine Gotthardt

What I really want is this:
to go back to the time on the front lawn,
worn blanket on crabgrass and wildflowers,
baby dolls and tea sets and nothing, 
nothing more than ants to worry about.

Not that my daughter might have cancer.
Or her addict ex-boyfriend could come back to kill her.
Not that my son has no one to watch him 
once we have passed. No, I’d prefer to freeze

the moments when my dog licks my nose,
or I feel the fur on my husband’s rising chest,
to only think of one thing at once.

I want to know I can do my job well, 
burn my student loans, seek justice,
eat when I am hungry, stop when I am full,
sleep without needing muscle relaxers,
walk in the woods and listen to birdcalls,
buy my brother health insurance, 
believe at least a little
we will not both die too young like our mother. 

I want to be a better Buddhist, to quit 
the craving, the whirlpool of want 
that sucks everything under the churn.

I want to focus, like I do when I’m writing –
really writing – and do only that. 

I want to stop wanting. Stop 
breathing water. Stop clawing
frantically at the layers 
gathered on the ocean floor.

We are not shellfish. 

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 was a past-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 published in dozens of journals and anthologies and 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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