Working Order

We clutch a bit
now for sleep
through the night,
choose sharper tipped
verbs, phrases,
questions of status
quo, but are handed
cliches older than

we are. Blame it
on life change.
On menopause.
Hormones. Bone
loss. Arthritis.
Blame it on
fatigue that

(naturally) wraps
aging in a plaster
cast. Blame
it on the body’s
to heal, a fresh

need for stricter
limitation, new
doctor’s orders,
less time sitting,
standing, but more

assistive devices,
larger print, stretching,
a cane, orthotics,
meditation. Do
not think any
of this has to
do with the strain

of being alive
in the same space
as you, thick arms
crossed across
your chest as
you tell us, now,

we are no longer
worthy, are less than,
that we needn’t
concern our silly
tongues with the
important verbiage
of youth. Of work.
Real work. Whelp.

You guessed wrong.
Immunity does
not apply here,
and we have news
for you. We have
listened intently
to whispers on your

sidelines. In board
and locker rooms
you thought were
private. What you
pass off as practical,
necessary. We know
because we have

sat in waiting rooms,
readers, observers,
learners, teachers,
patient be-allers and
mentors. Our work
speaks volumes over

yours. Years more than
you have breathed
rhetoric and recycled
air. We can manage.
Rely on it. Our work
has just begun.

Katherine Mercurio Gotthardt, copyright July 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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