Last Seen on a Milk Carton

By Reese Conner

Featured art by Sebald Beham

In the photo on the left, the first Jesus poses
with a thorny crown scratching his skull
and his right arm slung around the cross
as if he and the cross are friends
or first-time prom dates,
while his mane, miraculous, immaculately
tumbles to his shoulders
in loose curlicues, the bounce of which
you can easily imagine
though scarcely believe
considering the dry, desert air,
and his skin (that skin!) is a goldilocks-bronze,
is light enough
not to alarm the whites
is dark enough
not to alarm the historians,
and his eyes are trustworthy
and inevitable—you don’t get to say
you’re the son of God
with any old eyes, no,
they need to be
more lamblike than lifelike—

meanwhile, in the photo on the right,
the second Jesus, age-progressed
two millennia since he went missing,
is a skeletal heap. And you begin to think
how sad it must be
that they keep looking for him.

Reese received his M.F.A. from Arizona State University, where he has continued to teach composition and poetry workshops. His work appears or is forthcoming in Tin House, The Missouri Review, Ninth Letter, Barrelhouse, and elsewhere. Reese’s debut book, The Body He Left Behind, won the 2020 Cider Press Review Editors’ Prize Book Award. Reese lives in Tucson, Arizona with his wife and their three cats.

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