The Wife of Potiphar


Come help me carry textbooks, the teacher asks,

and when the student’s loaded up,
her hand smoothes down his back, follows
his buttock’s curve like droplets obeying
gravity. Her necklaces clack, her lacquered


vibrate as the hand withdraws. He holds
the stack of books. He takes them
where he’s told. Watches her impotent claws
palsy across other boys’ coiffures in class.


Her drunken hand lifts up to stroke
his drunken face and jabs
into his eye instead. Shocked, he grabs
her wrist and twists — she laughs —

she howls.

At 4AM, she’s on the bathroom tile.
I hate myself, she gulps, I love you, he
soothes, meaning: Aren’t you tired?
He shampoos vomit from her hair,

folds her in dirty sheets.


Won’t you eat something? You’re eating for two.
She smiles in response, tosses her head with mixed terror
and decision. You’ve got to eat something. She smiles
as tears glisten. She prances to the bathroom, flicks

locked the knob’s

little switch. Time passes. She flushes
the blood-daubed tissues, emerges triumphant
with freshly beaded lines sliced on the list
down her inner thigh. Don’t tell me

what I got

to do, she hisses, slams the bedroom
shut. He washes, dries the dishes,
sets his alarm. Quietly he cums
to muted porn on the couch and falls asleep. 


Daniel Cowper's poetry has appeared in poetry reviews in Canada, the US, and Ireland, and he was long-listed for the 2017 CBC Poetry Prize. He is the author of The God of Doors, a poetry chapbook that was co-winner of the 2017 Frog Hollow Chapbook Contest, and the a full-length poetry book, Grotesque Tenderness, forthcoming from MQUP in April 2019.