I am sitting in a folding chair, cheap paper plate dappled
with prescriptions, writing on a $400 laptop connected
to a hotspot, watching the timer as megabytes run out.
Whether we need to add to the account is up to someone
else, dependent on a lawyer, senator, financier, someone
more powerful whose name we don’t even know. Not from
lack of effort, mind you. That kind of information just isn’t
available to people who—even if temporarily—have no place.
And it makes sense that more consistently, I find myself thinking

of the man in the park, of the loop where we walk our dog, and
evenings where months ago, I told my husband I did not feel right
discussing buying a home while someone right in front of us is
living out of a car. He seems to spend the currency of day
staring at the floor of a pavilion, refusing to look up. When
rented by some party or another, of course, “our guy,” as we call
him, isn’t there, probably having moved to another site. And
if am truthful with me, it’s a relief not to see him, was a massive
exhale one morning a young ranger spoke to him, no eviction
apparently in mind, and another day, someone else had courage
to bring him a bag of food. Because how can we, in any sort of
conscience, talk about buying something comfortable while
he is sitting right there? And yes, I do know what it is like

not to really have an address, not just now that we are
between houses in a weird real estate limbo, neither settled
in old or new, dependent on the kindness of credit, family,
friends, and strangers. Years ago, when I was pregnant with
my first, down on my luck in an unknown, small farm town
brimming with farmland, Angus, and decisions I didn’t know
I was making, the attic apartment fell through, the only car
caught fire, reporters came out, and it hit the front pages.
Even McDonald's wouldn’t hire me, because who wants to
take a risk on a big bellied woman with no transportation,
water ready to break? It was then that the only known local

gay man paired with a working poor Catholic family of five,
fourth-hand furniture and a picture of the pope on their wall,
tucked us under white, protective wings, and my baby had
a safe place to be born. But I remember what it felt like not
to have much of anything my own, to be in a strange town
where no one else would look at me, where beef cattle and
calves moaned so deeply, it bounced off the hills as they made
their slow way through the hours, naming the fear: No one
really gets to choose beginnings. They just kind of happen.

Katherine Mercurio Gotthardt, copyright June 5, 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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