She always had to have a man, or what looked like a man, sharp arms and jaw of a man, to sit home manning up the place, while she ground down her joints into powder like we were always taught a man was s’posed to. She didn’t mind a lowly no-account long as she knew he was there to protect her baby, keep him safe while she did what she had to do in a stretched-out nine-to-five that bled mornings into nights and jittery dawns. A man who had some link to the world, a lineage, perhaps just a drink with the right smile, someone to take and raise her baby should she crumble. There was nothing she wouldn’t endure to ensure her baby wasn’t left alone in some cold rental, above the bar or in that tacked-on shack with the bricks and bare board walls. She’d bear the weight of a thousand I dos, a thousand false rings, a thousand ruined hearts. She’d do it all in stride while her feet grew blistered, her skin loose and leeched of life. She’d be a shield in all the ways she could, waking in the dark, taking buses, stop-and-go but never not going. She had her baby to think of. She would take what came and get what didn’t. She’d find a man but never to do what needed done. A man was simply a last-ditch net to catch her baby, if she happened to lose her feet out there, and couldn’t keep on.
William R. Soldan lives in Youngstown, Ohio, with his wife and two children. His poetry has appeared in publications such as Jelly Bucket, Jump: International Journal of Modern Poetry, Neologism Poetry Journal, Anti-Heroin Chic, Ohio’s Best Emerging Poets: An Anthology, and others.