By Katherine Gotthardt

Somewhere, there’s what I should be doing, 
somewhere between the smudged edges of you and me, 
between the places where time and things collect,
and I become a bit overwrought. 
I look around this room,
this one room, 
and I am breathless –
not because it is beautiful, 
not with appreciation, 
not with anything more than angst 
at all the things that have come in
and never seem to leave. 
I see them somehow replicate,
pile themselves on knickknack shelves and end tables,
chests of drawers and desks, 
the flat surfaces of life that attract too much, always: 
a cracked ceramic candle holder your mother gave us on our wedding day,
(it wasn’t cracked then, but how can we get rid of it, 
now that she has passed?)
an old gold soap dish that just needs a dusting,
(then we can put it back in the bathroom)
two tarnished hoop earrings that could use a little polishing,
last week’s champagne glasses, stems sticky with vintage wine,
a pretty little journal with a bluebird on the cover, 
mating colors muted by an ancient coffee ring. 
That is just the beginning, and I am starting to sweat. 
I feel like a sliver, slid into the thin layer that barely separates myself 
from everything that makes me me, 
everything that makes you you,
and everything that surrounds us both.
Cobwebs in the ceiling corner, fan circulating the particles of decades,
I come to a sordid realization: 
I am either a mess or a hoarder.
I am either old or too sentimental.
I am either the person who can’t let go,
or someone who just can’t declutter.
I ask you which it is, 
and you look at me and shrug,
rubbing the full belly of the snoozing dog beside you.
You go back to the book you were reading.
I turn to the notepad in front of me,
continue writing poetry.  

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." 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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