Sarah Betancourt | Longreads | March 2018 | 23 minutes (5,704 words)

There are things in life a Puerto Rican doesn’t talk about. One is the mesa blanca, or white table, in the laundry room, with statues of St. Michael, St. Lazarus, and others whose names you might not know. For years, I assumed leaving coffee in front of those other statues, trading out stale bread with new, and listening to nine days of prayers (la novena) after a death was just normal American life. Catholicism was for Sundays; Espiritismo was the rest of the time. By the time I was 9, I realized there was a reason my parents locked the laundry room door when white people came to our house.


The last thing I packed when I left Manhattan for Florida on September 12, 2015, was an old plastic rosary, worn and smelling of incense embedded…

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