I Want To Know What Causes It

I want to know what causes this pain.
Not just the ache we all eventually have
in the shell of our muscle and bone. Not
the staring after someone has barged into
our body, leaving us more alone, nor
the breaking apart of what we believed
was ourself, or the pills or prayers we accept
afterwards to make it go away. No, more so,
I want to get to the bottom of it, to know
the reason the raven will kill for its mate
and never feel badly after, why fish don’t
appear to cry when their babies are lost,
what is behind the hurt that any breathing

being brings upon another. And do not
tell me it is because they don’t know
a special kind of god, or that they strayed
from a woodland path we memorized long ago
as children, walking it so often, we did it
with our eyes closed, cut off from the blue jay
knocking a robin’s egg out of the nest, the father’s
thumbprints on our friend’s young thigh, the toxic
liquid from lead and steel, and the noxious gas we
call just another war, every atrocity that overtakes
us from our own refusal to get any better.
I want to know where that comes from, why

we trod upon one another’s heart, reseed it,
then claim we are growing a garden—as if
anything can grow once blood has seeped
into the soil, as if our planet, in its own pain,
can absorb it all, each of us guilty of our own
slaughter, our own kind of grief giving. And while
I realize the sun also rises, I wonder sometimes
if it does so just out of spite for the moon,
out of habit, night taking over day and day over night,
the daily struggle of trying to outlive one another,
until, as they say, this too shall pass, we all shall
pass, return to the energy we were before we
became so insecurely human, so terribly
veined with death that we ourselves inflict it.

Katherine Mercurio Gotthardt, copyright May 14, 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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