"A Perfect Aim" by Kelli Stafford

Kelli Stafford

Kelli Stafford

Kelli Stafford lives in Oregon with her husband and children. She is in the low residency MFA program at the University of Nebraska. Her poems have appeared in 2River View, Millers Pond, Poetry Magazine, and Foliate Oak.

A Perfect Aim

The menu rarely varied:
Bread, butter, meat, potatoes overcooked,
the faint aroma of stunted fruit.
Friday's, fish
carried home in my father's fists.
Always on a side table behind his head
sat a bouquet in lush repose.

That night it began with a pot of hot
salted water.
I am seven, maybe ten.
His freckled right arm was left
lying on the table's edge,
red lips at his pipe,
when the water struck his bared wrist.

His arms raised up, and rising
all around me
was milk white spit.
Water spilled
like rain off the table.
A wine glass toppled and fell in his lap.

His body unfolded,
grew straight on its feet.
His thick arms spread out like wings.
He lifted his plate, rocked back
on his feet and threw his fish
at Jesus hanging on the wall.