Winter 1991 • Vol. XIII No. 1 Fiction |

The Lesson

When I was six and living in Haiti, Odette taught me how to find a stone with a loa spirit in it. She kept her loa stone on an altar at the base of a breadfruit tree on a white porcelain plate. She would lay out special food for it. She said her stone had the loa of Erzuli, and Erzuli liked the food of lovers: milk, honey, sweet mango, sugarcane. Odette told me stories about Erzuli, how she captivates men, and destroys them. She drives men mad with love for her. Once she has come into his life, a man can no longer love his wife, or lover, or any other earthly woman. To find if a stone has a loa, Odette told me first to cup it in my hands, and then to breathe on it. If it sweated, there was a loa inside it. She told me to be careful, to bring the stone to her immediately. She said, "Once a white man put a loa stone on his desk like a paperweight and wouldn't you know, that loa pissed all over his important papers." For months I was walking with my head down, in search. Breathin

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