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“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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No One Ever Is to Blame

So this is what mourning feels like. There are fists and there are tears and there is a boot on your neck and glass in your stomach. Someone has cut the strings in your arms and legs. Your beloved surrounds you, a sweet scent, a shadow, a sound, a film that wets your palms. But when you squeeze, fingertips touch palm, nails cut skin. You breathe but feel no fuller. You eat but feel no heavier. The sun is indifferent. There is light but no warmth. Every day it goes down on you without warning. Every day you wait for it to rise and say its sorry.

When I think of all those I know, have known, who have struggled with greater loss, I wonder how they ever survived. I feel terrible I never understood before, never could reach down in their throat and feel their poor pulpy heart, a floppy fish on a boat's bottom. I fear for them and I fear for me that we will never find the sea.

I'm sorry. I understand now. I punch the air, throttle it, but there is no satisfaction. It is as empty as my heart. It is not to blame. It is just air. Who is to blame? No one is to blame. Stop crying. Repeat.