I remember the black sweating pipe running down one wall,
and how we balanced wine glasses on knee-high stacks of books
as I read Blake to her; I was a pompous shit back then.
Afterwards, she sat up and stretched her arms.
A death's head tattoo on her back. Sockets black as drilled holes,
rounded-off tombstones for teeth. Dates and names in curled script.
When I asked her about it she gathered the sheet around her.
I wanted to get it on my wrist, she said. But I was too afraid.
She rolled over, her back rounded under the naked bulb.
Later I woke up with a gasp. A dog shrieked outside, its cries high and mad.
I reached out slowly to trace the curve of the jawbone, the squared-off eyes.
The skull grinned. Its eyes burned black. It rose and fell with every gentle breath.
Trevor Pyle has spent most of his life in the Pacific Northwest and currently lives north of Seattle.