He sneaks out for a cigarette,
and when he returns the child
is already sliding out of her mother.
All he sees are the toes coming free.
This is the best case scenario.
Other men wanted to be there,
or claimed they did. Nowadays men
announce to family “We’re pregnant,”
as if they too will be getting fat,
vomiting, walking with plantar fasciitis.
“Push,” they say. “Breathe.”
“I’m going through this with you.”
What a bunch of bullshit.
He prefers the old days,
when the father waited outside,
got the good news,
then handed out cigars.
At least there was no mistake
who deserved credit for the labor.
Later, when he finally holds his child,
he informs his wife the toes are his,
and the rest hers. Being nice,
she agrees to let him have
more than any man deserves.
James Valvis has placed poems or stories in Arts & Letters, Barrow Street, Ploughshares, River Styx, The Sun, and many others. His poetry was featured in Verse Daily. His fiction was chosen for Sundress Best of the Net. A former US Army soldier, he lives near Seattle.