Sixteen months in,
 well, I still work 
 from my basement,
 that deep part 
 of the home,
 submerged in earth, 
 indelibly cool window
 opening itself 
 to the promise 
 of midmorning light,
 by another gray day.
 I notice my desk, 
 cheap finish fading
 where dry elbows have
 sanded away edges,
 tense hands stretched 
 too often to the keyboard,
 now missing 
 the letter Q. 
 There’s a hole
 where the character
 once was, 
 orderliness left 
 gap toothed, grimacing
 between Tab
 and W. Odd 
 I didn’t notice
 until now.
 Maybe I hadn’t
 needed it?
 I guess it’s okay. 
 I must not have used it
 (much, anyway),
 and with so many words
 to come up with,
 no one could have 
 realized it was gone. 
 I’ll just work around 
 the Q, choose
 different diction,
 look to the thesaurus
 or alternate spelling,
 justify omitting it,
 because why can’t
 kuestion or kuarantine 
 serve as well
 as anything else
 the pandemic dragged in?
 See, if C were missing,
 we’d be a bit screwed. 
 How to cash
 that stimulus check,
 or video conference
 on a PC or Mac.
 But Q? 
 No, we can navigate
 some letters’
 coming loose,
 snapping off
 from the erosion
 of office hours.
 We can 
 lower the shade
 if we don’t like the weather, 
 slam the door
 when the world gets too loud,
 replace the chair
 warped with the weight
 of our labor,
 buff the desktop 
 scuffed by pen marks. 
 The Q is the least
 of our problems.
 Who else
 has disappeared?
 -Katherine Gotthardt

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 is current 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. While Katherine is well-known for her poetry, she also has established a solid reputation for writing articles, columns and short fiction. She is a full-time marketing writer for a government contracting company and is published in dozens of journals and anthologies. She has authored ten 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 and Thirty Years of Cardinals Calling. She uses proceeds from her books to support giving back initiatives.
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