“Jen Michalski’s second novel is an intense emotional commitment, but a worthwhile one.” – Ploughshares

“Jen is an astonishingly sensitive writer.” – HTML Giant

“Jen Michalski excels in subtlety that is made possible by her nuanced understanding of voice.” – The Rumpus

“Jen is a writerly heavyweight.” – Nate Brown, American Short Fiction

“We’re lucky to have Michalski before the rest of the world discovers her. But they will.” – Baltimore City Paper

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Bitter Clean Dirt

It's cold and smells of horses. I reach for Emma's broken bit, my knuckles red gumballs on hands that will not close. This is where the chill separates an untucked shirt from an oblique and cuts it right across. Everything, from the ground to the sky to the barn to the house, is a faded tintype, a wheat palette, even the smells. Bitter clean dirt.

She is still in bed, her body a fold of sheet. I cover her like a blanket. It's not a sickness of her body, it's the head. The wind rattles against the window. We both search the drained landscape with different eyes. I have dirt deep under my fingernails. I have broken more bones than bread, than hearts. I love her. I fear her. I miss her. There are more feelings than words that travel the roads of me.

"Get up," I whisper in her neck, my stubble little explosions in her skin. "Lots to get done. Come on, now."

(From The Potomac)