My brother’s been looking at the stars. That’s
a UFO, he declares. He’s eighteen
to my nine. I believe: He’s bigger
than I am and closer to the truth. He
goes inside to tell the rest of the clan.
I hear him through the kitchen door, back in
the living room. Our parents and sisters
are watching Ed Sullivan. It will take
a UFO to land to bring them out
here. I’m looking at the clear southwestern
sky. Too many stars. My brother says that
a UFO looks like a star but you
can see it moving. And not just twinkling
–all stars do that; there’s something in the air
or the air itself than makes them glitter.
He returns with our family. Where, Boy?
our father asks. I can’t follow his finger
but Dad can. No, no, he says. That’s a star.
Just another star. Just another light
in the night. No, David says. Ain’t no star.
He sounds like he did that time when Mother
asked him if he’d swiped cigarettes from her.
He denied it in that same voice. No faith.
Dad goes back in. Mother lingers. Where, Son?
There, David says. Somebody believes him
even if he’s wrong. He points again. It’s
moving, he says. That’s not a star. It’s a
UFO. It damned sure is. I can’t see
it. Could it be a planet? Mother asks.
Or a Sputnik? What’s a Sputnik? I ask.
A sat-el-lite, David says. A man-made
moon. It’s not big enough to be no moon,
I say. No, he explains. A satellite’s
small. It squats on top of a rocket and
they shoot the rocket up and the thing pops
off and goes into orbit. It goes ’round
the at-mo-sphere. Why? I ask. You’re too young
to know, he says. He hasn’t looked away.
I still can’t see what he sees up there but
I believe that he sees it so he must
be right–it must be there. A UFO.
He must have sharp eyes to separate light
from light. Mother goes in now. Our sisters
come out. Kathy and Sally. They’re between
my brother and me in age. They sit on
the porch-steps. Sally says, Maybe someone
will visit us. Maybe a ship will land.
There’s no water–how can there be a ship?
Who’s going to visit us this late at night?
I don’t see anything, Kathy says, but
a lot of stars. Oh, it’s there, David says.
You can see it if you know where to look.
How did you know where to look? Sally asks.
Good question. I look every night, he says.
And that thing just don’t belong there. Can they
see us? I ask. Do they know we’re watching?
I dunno, he says. Maybe they see what
a little twerp you are. Shut up, booger!
I yell. Don’t say booger, Kathy says. Don’t
be childish. He called me a twerp, I say.
Tiger, I’ll beat the crap out of you if
you don’t shut up. You shut up! I scream. He
takes his eyes off the sky and comes toward me.
I make fists. He slaps me upside the head.
I flail but can’t reach him–he has one hand
on my head, keeping me at a distance.
I want the UFO to come help me.
I’m crying now so I run inside. He
hit me! I squeal to Mother. He hit me!
Well, try to avoid him, she says. Hit back,
Father says. I return to the porch. I’m
gonna hit you back, I say. He punches
me in the stomach. I can’t breathe, just bow.
He slaps me on the head and I drop. Stop!
Kathy yells. Do you want some, too? he asks.
‘Cause if you do you’ll get it. Stop fighting,
Sally says. Look for your UFO again.
What UFO? he says. It’s just a star.
He takes a cigarette, Mother’s brand, from
his shirt pocket. You’re smokin’! I cry, now
that I can gasp again. You don’t like it?
he asks. I don’t like you, snot-face, I say.
He slaps me again. My sisters go in.
Then David yanks me up. You’re a liar!
I yell. There ain’t no UFO! Fuck off,
he says. The f-word. You’re a jerk, I say.
He slaps me again. I’m a star, he says.
And you’re just a little shit-ass and don’t
you forget it. He fires the butt into
the dark. It falls like a meteor. He
blows his last lungful into my face. I
gag. He goes inside. I’m whimpering while
I search where he was looking when he swore
he’d seen a UFO. I see it now.
I’d call him back but I hate his damned guts.
But there it is, for sure, like a star but
moving slowly to the east. Watching us.