ironweed and rue and an upside down table

Her face is as white as a piece of paper and she doesn’t even talk; and she spends the whole day as if she were in a dream or something, half asleep and half awake. Why, yesterday I put my hand on her forehead like this, and she was burning up. And you’d just finished sprinkling holy water on her to shoo the spirits away. That old man is the one to blame for all this-he doesn’t believe in anything, not even so much as the mother that bore him. We’ve got to pray, we’ve got to ask God to help. That child is not well. Tomorrow first thing in the morning I’m going to go out and find me some ironweed leaves and some rue to work against the spell, and make her a bath to sit in. She’s thirteen, and that’s a dangerous, dangerous age. I’ll tell you, she might be going to turn out to be a medium. But anyway-this is a hard test, a test of what’s in store for her to bear. These days she spends the livelong day, her whole life, you might say, looking out the hall window. Like there was something to see out that window-and you can’t even see the street…But I tell you, the devil himself is in this house. Tell me the truth-do you pray every night? Well, then, from now on you better not sleep so much. Look at that face and tell me it doesn’t look like the face of the dead…May God forgive me for what I’ve said, and for what I didn’t say, too, and ought to have. You’ve got to fight it. My advice to you would be for you all to move out of this house. I believe there’s some evil or something buried here…Some evil, or an evil eye, or some kind of hex or other. Her bed might be right on top of where it’s buried, that might be what it is. Move her bed, or at least make her sleep with her head down at the foot. Look at that face, what does it look like to you?…Give her lots of spiritual waters to drink. A little bottle of Turn-the-tables.

The Palace of the White Skunks, Reinaldo Arenas

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