Cardinal

 By Katherine Gotthardt
  
 Mornings, I want to write deeply,
 delve into the beak of the cardinal by my window,
 pull his routine song into my poem,
 make something more beautiful than myself. 
      But it doesn’t happen.
  
 Instead, the day gets swallowed, 
 sits in a full belly where hours and years swell
 into reminders we don’t get to do 
 half of what we want to do,
 a quarter of what we need to do,
 perhaps none of what we dream to do.
      And I am sad. 
  
 See I have aspirations,
 hopes that hitchhike on wings,
 land on high branches,
 build nests among spring leaves and breezes,
 strain to touch the sky’s thin edges –
 indeed, I’d be able to fly 
 whenever mood or need arises. 
      But mostly, I remain grounded.
  
 So for now I borrow a feather, 
 dip it in red ink and affirmations,
 lower that sharp tip 
 to a page in a mulberry notebook, 
 quill my words in cursive:
 “Still,” it says,
      “I live.”
   

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. She 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. Get Happy, Dammit: Staying Inspired and Motivated in an Often-Unhappy World received a Silver Award from the Nonfiction Authors Association. Her children’s book, A Crane Named Steve, hit number one in its category on Amazon in 2019. Katherine 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 County 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 she earned second place for "Aftermath" in a Poetry Society of Virginia national contest and a regional Seefeldt Award for Arts Excellence from the Prince William County Arts Council. 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 nine 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 and D.C. Ekphrastic: Crisis of Faith.
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