I am back to believing 
nothing is ever one thing—
that in itself a contradiction,
because any time you use
something finite, you indicate
something else is singular,
that a something stands alone,
missing a partner. But if
we can get past all that,
moving on to emotions, let’s
say, everything is ambivalence,
everything a contrary mix
of grapes and compensatory salt
and sweetener, the confusion
of living surprise and love
and disappointment, utter joy
and complete devastation
at once, cocktails of grief
and giddiness in a vessel
probably made of the same
blown glass holding the same
concoction handed down
to you from your grandparents,
or their uncles, or great-great
aunts, more transparent souls
from the old country, simple
families who carried all
they owned on the frailty
of their backs, a bag of jumbled
spades and hoes, rude shirts
and rough socks, anything
that could easily shatter
wrapped in undergarments
and crying they kept to themselves
when they lost another baby,
or rejoiced that mother and child
both lived. I can picture how they
offered each other weak smiles
in secret, amid the anxiety of survival,
gripping each other’s hands
like there would be no next hour.
Like there was only two of them
amid the seasick passengers. She
would ask him, can I get you something
to sooth your stomach? He’d say
no thank you, green faced and brave,
too afraid to let her out of his sight.

Katherine Mercurio Gotthardt, copyright May 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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