The alien did not come in peace, but he did not come in war.

Not alien, really. More hybrid beast, bearing the physique of the creature in Where the Wild Things Are, extending an elephant trunk with a pig snout, and gazing out of eyes like roses made of Jell-O, fanned by the plumage of moth wing eyelashes.

He came to us, an audience of fans, children of all ages, who were not civil, but not violent; doting, yet demanding. The introductory music climbed into rapture as he reached the edge of the stage. He raised his arms and we raised ours, like poles, carrying power lines, alternating currents. Thus, considering his ambassadorship duties finished, he exited, and the band entered.

The band M83, named after Messier 83, a barred spiral galaxy, named for the spiral structures that extend from the center into the disk. The spiral arms are sites of ongoing star formation and are brighter than the surrounding disk because of the young, hot OB stars that inhabit them.

Not everyone can be a young, hot star. Not even in America. But that night, we, the stars, stellar remnants, gas, dust, dark matter… formed a system, bound and clustered. Next to me, a teenager, high on marijuana and hormones, flailed his limbs like a child’s push puppet toy, sweat glimmering all over his skin like dew. I watched him and listened to the music and wondered how long it could last.