The Anthology 
Rivers






A Good Half of Them and Their Kin


By Mary Moore Easter


Ernesto say (Co)Rona don’t play
no matter what you got or how you sway
to the music to let your spirits slay
the blue mood, lay it low.
It’ll take you down while you’re counting your money
It’ll take you down while you’re trying to pay
the rent, the bills, even when you know you have to stay
home, stay in, wear your mask, and wash wash wash away
every little crown that may have come your way
on a friend, careless, forgotten nine days ago
clinging to your coat, trailing from a hair he sneezed on
from three feet away, far it seemed, he sneezed in his sleeve.
Ernesto say, ‘Rona don’t play, like she’s from down the block
well-known bully hanging round, invisible to the instinct
for danger, ignored by the men on the park’s court
thinking blackness excuses them, they already paid
dues of every kind, every kind of dues. They don’t hear Ernesto say
‘Rona don’t play and dues don’t matter so it’s a hard day
to cluster and shoot the shit on a spring bench,
while the ball falls through the hoop—swish—loud in defiance
of the cloud of their breath that could fell
the half of them in three weeks flat. I inch near enough
but far enough away to say, We can’t afford to lose all of you.
Separate. And some few listen and leave air between them,
coolness edging away for the coolest. They say I look good for my age
but I’ve got an underlying condition called years
and kidneys no matter what they say and Rona don’t care
about looking young when you’re old.
Maybe it’s my gray hair that, grandma-like, is a thing
to be heeded even when you think you don’t need it.
So they separate—for today—and I go my way.
Then the news hits bout Idris and his infection
little crowns in his system not just the big one on his head
and an army of sistren rise up, Nooo ‘Rona, not this, not Idris
never this, so wild and roaring with grief that Ernesto say
‘Rona you better watch your back
cause when the sistren mad with grief,
they don’t play.