The Abduction

by Sarah Sweeney

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