To Me, an Apology

upon having to apply for disability 

I owe me yet another one – another, I’m sorry I did that 
to me, another, please forgive my insensitivity, my inability 
to protect us from the unexpected week’s end, blasting 
the same old lie, that we were never good enough to survive
in the ‘real world,’ the ‘working world,’ the world of nine 
to five or more, where people are very much a commodity, 
and we hold so very little value. You see, me, I forgot myself 

again, forgot where we were just yesterday, driving, laughing 
so hard our poor cheeks were sore, exploring where else 
we might live besides this cacophony of bulldozers and steam, 
and I know returning to it, to the phone calls and paperwork, 
admitting we cannot work traditionally, earn a steady paycheck, 
returning to this place where even the walls of our sacred home 
shake in the wind – I want you to know, I get it, why those unmasked

tasks spitting in the face of what we had planned for our family, 
the torn-up road back to ‘reality’ (as if the world we have built us
were not already a better reality) I do understand our stratosphere 
is still somewhat unstable, that we cannot yet rely on the air we 
concocted, hold our breath long enough to go back into those caverns 
and tunnels overly mined, where everything is a possible soft spot, 
and we never know when we might sink, fall suddenly into darkness, 

that sometimes, we both believe we are strong enough to endure 
it this time, that this time, some word or image or memory might not 
affect us both in ways we do not want to imagine – though we 
have been to those shafts before, deep under earth, again and again
in the past month or so, each time assuming our own ozone 
would hold. And I want me to know I will try to remind me next time 
to observe where we are, where we have recently been, that transitions 

are still hard for us, and accepting our own limitations even harder. 
Together, we will plot a little better before reentering, reexamining, 
rethinking, responding. And I will tell me gently that not everything
requires immediate ‘get it done’ anymore, that we are not beholden 
to it, that we are free to walk barefoot in thriving wildflowers we 
ourselves have planted, can curl their stems between our toes, skim 
hands across the tops, close our so very tired eyes whenever we wish,
listen to spring peepers and cardinal calls, and tell us what they say.

Katherine Mercurio Gotthardt, copyright March 30, 2024, all rights reserved 

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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