My father drove me at night to the riverbank, the darkest spot in town for his diatribe on stars, aliens with oblong eyes who sliced through my dreams like soaring silver discs, like the day he tells me he’s sick and can’t say why. He believed he’d been abducted once, raised by light beams and examined inside their chamber of mirrors, let go to be a boy again as if it had been nothing. Only a vaccination. Eight years old at the planetarium, I wondered why him, and during the star shows looked for the ones who did it, hating what I now knew as space, not heaven. I grew up believing someone had to stop them— I planned wars in the backyard, mapped strategies across bedroom walls while my brother traced galaxies with broken crayons: Any day now. I made him swear he’d be ready, kissed a pocketknife and slid it under his pillow, just in case. Sometimes I wake in the night, ready, as though I am still thirteen and the psychologist is asking Do you want to save yourself, or him? Him, I reply, and go on sleeping with the windows open.

SARAH SWEENEY’s work has appeared in Quarterly West, Cream City Review, Tar River Poetry, PANK, Barrelhouse, and elsewhere. A native of North Carolina, she lives and writes in Boston, MA. Find her at