That afternoon we lost our way on the Appalachian Trail:
December, and an inexplicable wind had picked up,
morphing chipped leaves into funnel and cloud,
sucking the path skyward, sending scraps of fall into our eyes.
How we rubbed to clear them, tearing up as we walked,
racing sunset back to the parking lot.
You don't want to drive in that kind of dark.
The hills will swallow you whole,
glasses and high beams and all.
That's how the conversation turned morbid,
you remembering our mother,
me remembering every pet that had ever passed,
talk of falling off mountains,
both of us catching ourselves on walking sticks
as we tripped on rocks frequently traveled.
It wasn't like we had hiked for miles.
It wasn't like we'd passed into other states,
overshot some critical split or blaze. No,
there stood stone posts, steel placards,
etchings and arrows to guide us,
making the journey more obvious.
But all that dead foliage rising.
Amazing those things we let blind us.
Amazing we made it back.

-Katherine Gotthardt

Katherine Gotthardt

Katherine Gotthardt, M.Ed., writing concentration, is a founding member of Write by the Rails, the Prince William Chapter of the Virginia Writers Club. She currently serves as President and has twice been nominated for Poet Laureate of Prince William County. She was the winner of InsideNova's 2019 Best of Prince William award in the author category. Katherine considers herself a writer by nature and by trade, having begun writing for fun as soon as her mother helped teach her to read. She has been writing, editing and teaching for more than twenty years. While Katherine's first love is poetry, she also holds an interest in writing articles, columns and short fiction. Besides being published in dozens of print and online journals, she has authored seven books: Poems from the Battlefield, Furbily-Furld Takes on the World, Approaching Felonias Park, Weaker Than Water, Bury Me Under a Lilac, Late April and A Crane Named Steve. On Facebook, dabbles in short pieces that she calls her "social experiment," #KatherinesCoffeehouse. In her "other" life, Katherine is a marketing writer for an IT company and CEO of ATW- All Things Writing. She works with local publications and is Editor in Chief of Prince William Living magazine. Previously, she wrote for Bristow Beat, News & Messenger, Potomac Local, PW Business and the Quantico Sentry. Katherine aims to use her professional background to elevate the practice of writing and give writers a space where they will be recognized as laborers honoring a timeless craft. "Writing is hard work," she says. "I want that work to be valued." Katherine's full profile can be found on LinkedIn.
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