After Watching “The X-Files”

At ten, I slept on the couch for weeks,
turned the TV low, watched images
flash late into the night, and listened to infomercials
for company and comfort after I spooked myself
watching an X-Files episode
about an abductee returned to his home.
In the opening shot, he stood in a field,
his arms stiff, his fingers and lips blue,
his skin as pale as a hospital patient’s.
My dad never jumped when we watched the creep show
every Sunday at prime time. When he went to bed,
I pondered if aliens could invade my bedroom,
unlock the doors and windows,
and then return me after months of experiments.
For weeks I muttered “Hail Mary,”
“Our Father,” whatever prayers I learned in Sunday school,
while I gripped the silver necklace I wore like a protective charm
against evil spirits and aliens,
knowing that if I caught a glimpse of the supernatural,
or heard a late night creak,
I’d cower under covers, unwilling to confront it
like Mulder and Scully, unwilling to pull back the sheets,
step outside and stare into the night,
brave enough for a moment to confront creatures
I was certain lurked outside.

Brian Fanelli, “After Watching the X-Files,” in Waiting for the Dead to Speak (New York: NYQ Books, 2016), 22.

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