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By Katherine Gotthardt

This morning and I’m thinking 
of the wolpertinger,
shy but fierce creature 
of the night.
Bavarian, so it sounds exotic. 

I don’t even know where Bavaria is. 

I chide myself for being so American,
so unworldly, so dependent on Google
to spotlight everything deficient
about me. Surely I should know
these things by now, right? 
The creature, the geography?
The lore behind the story,
anything’s story? The way maps come about,
or how the world changes, one 
word at a time? And how the universe 
can possibly spin so quickly, 
just outside my basement window,
while I sit here typing 
and wondering about algorithms
and my search history? 

Perhaps I’ll delve again into German myth and history.
Or explore the Tibetan hillside. Or hop over to India
and see those temples I’ve wanted to see since
I was in my 20s when everything started to make sense
because I simply asked the right people. The Hindu woman
I worked for. My Greek world history professor. 
The students from every nook of the globe,
(ironically, asking me how to learn English). 

Once, later in life, I visited a Buddhist temple 
and practically interrogated the poor young monk.
He talked kindly of the ancient ways, ancestors and tradition,
the slow growing chasm between old and new. 

And now I am thinking about a lifetime of such things,
the cloistered Catholic nuns, the Franciscan monastery, 
robed brothers chanting, tassels swinging from their waists
with every clack of the brass censer. The Unitarian minister 
who joked “smells and bells,” but I don’t mind a bit of tradition, 
a bit of ritual. I think about my own rituals, every morning,

up too early, lighting a candle, drinking coffee and writing
like a fiend before the sun even awakes. 
I dive into my search, explore randomness,
read about neuroscience or diseases
or leadership or books on Eastern meditation 
applied to psychology. Sometimes it’s a poem 
that gets me, other times a picture. But now 

I am thinking it’s more important that at this age,
I still want to learn, still want to explore,
and kudos to me for still having drive to understand.

I might never get to India.
I might never see the inside of a Hindu temple
or speak to another monk.  But I can keep open 
every tab, every page, every sacred place of inquiry 
and respect for those things that keeps life interesting,
the things that make meaning. Even if I do it in the dark.

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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