What They Say about Hands – a draft

They say the hands will do
what the heart has felt.

Not knowing who they are
(might be indigenous wisdom
or merely a good meme from Facebook)
I immediately think of hitting hands,
because I clearly recall anger in fingers 
that had touched too much of life,
the plated skin on their palms, ridged 
at the base of every joint. The way it grows on them 
like moments, thickening tree bark
suiting up for progressively harsher winters. 
These are hands that might have worked hard, 
but in the process, petrified, cracked, 
and when you offer your own in friendship,
you are left with abrasions, impressions of their every day 
of having to fend off ice storms. There was a time 

I might have be attracted to this sort of hand,
until I learned the way they use the callousness they have layered 
on over the years. Hands like these you cannot peel back, 
expose a hint of neon green, thinner skin that makes each of us 
tender enough to grow. And while I'd like to believe these hands 
are for protecting, for planting, that somewhere in the rings of their living, 
the muscle recalls what it was to be sapling or seed. But then, 

I return to my own thick fingers, soft and losing their senses,  
their numb voice at a noisy keyboard as I make another typo 
because dear God in Heaven, I know this neuropathy is spreading,
I am far overdue for an exam, and it is not my job 
to massage anyone with my archaic wisdom or water them with understanding.
I simply cannot use up what's left of my own aging hands, stung,
nerve damaged, clumsy and weakening, albeit very well cared for. 
And let's face it. I've never had a green thumb. Best I stick with poetry. 

-Katherine Gotthardt
Draft 2/8/2024

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 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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