Journal of the Plague Year (Abridged)

by | Jul 1, 2021 | 0 comments

[Editor’s Note: Lorna Dee Cervantes contracted Covid a year ago. Her 2020-21 Facebook posts, even heavily abridged here, offer a personal journey through the daily evolving landscape—all with the generous and rebellious spirit of an Earth Mother under assault.]

January 5, 2020

My mother named me, “Lorna Doone” (Dee) so I’d “be brave and able to eat horses if (I) had to!”

I Never understood the part about the horses, but according to recent tests, I can survive a zombie apocalypse.

March 4, 2020

I decided not to go to AWP… I can’t NOT HUG y’all! My event was cancelled today. Anthology not back from printer.

It really is the “no hugging” policy. How does one do that? Some of my young friends were going to booty bump, but I don’t have much booty to bump that much… Maybe carry a sign that says, “Muchos ABRAZOS fuertes!”

The co-director of the AWP resigned last night over their decision to go ahead.

March 9,2020

I am self-quarantined. … couldn’t in good conscience travel. Not from Seattle. Not after being coughed on directly by someone not covering their face inches from my eyes.

 … The bus was in front of the Amazon where a “community transmission” person died. … 19 deaths so far, 18 in my county. Dry cough is the main symptom after slight sore throat and then fever. Deaths occur when it reaches the lower lung.


I’m also 60+ plus. I may not survive. But, I’m an existential phenomenologist and an educator.

March 10, 2020

Me, I’m great! Self-quarantine is my default mode… a wannabe Eagle Scout. I’m always prepared.

Got my black beans. Got my brown rice. Got my amaranth. Got my quinoa. Got my oatmeal. Got my flour. Got my broths. Got some vegetables. Got some fruit.

Got my portable 3-in-one, wind-up battery, solar-powered charger, light, blinker am/fm radio, short wave, alarm and compass for when the grid goes down.

Got my sanitizers … aerosol sprays, alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, vinegar and vinegar wipes, body wipes for upper and lower, toothpaste …

Got my oranges. Got my cinnamon. Got my slight sore throat…


Boo, I don’t got my maple syrup.…


Good time to go backpacking…. Like, forever…


Bad time to have to rely on public transportation…Got my fold-up, multispeed, custom-built bicycle, with fixing to attach a motor; a good helmet and all the fixings. … It’s a good day to ride. Hokahe!

Italy this morning? 90 deaths a day.

March 11, 2020

Gist of the matter is this …The virus migrates down … to the lower lungs, you die. …  Wash your lungs! Use a few drops of Eucalyptus essential oil in… boiling water. Put a towel over your head. Breathe in the steam through mouth and then nose. Hold for 10 seconds. Repeat until water has cooled. Then gargle with it. As much as you can stand. …

I’ve learned to hold my breath. The steam keeps my lungs clear.

Cook good healthy food and plenty of it. That’s your gold now.

Be a Water Protector. It’s you, and our children’s lives, and their future children. The Ancestors are there, absorbing all our tears. Show some Love and Gratitude to Water; to All, for All.

The only cure for fear is knowledge. When in doubt, research. We are our own “expert.” … A laugh a day keeps the locos away. Be kind. We’re all our own doctors now. …

SHARE FIRST is the economy now. Stock up on medical books, herbal wisdom, DIY. Darwin got it wrong. It’s not survival of the fittest. It’s survival of the most creative.

We Will survive.

The women are smarter.

WWGD? What would gra’ma do?

Feeling blue? HELP SOMEONE.

Art SAVES lives.

Poetry the first time.


My go-to homeopathic flu remedy Oscillococcinum … Effective against all strains. Tiny sugar pills …dissolve on the large pores under your tongue … morning noon and night for 3 days. …repeat cycle as needed. Get a bad flu, all wiped out. … Go dancing, symptom-free, in four days. What flu?

Are all those dead—in Italy, New York, Ireland and Kirkland—”fake news?” Not to mention China, which would just grab your ass, kicking and screaming, and weld the doors and windows shut so you wouldn’t go out to have your fun… to infect a couple hundred new victims because you wouldn’t listen to reason.

What’s wrong with you? Show some COMPASSION.

To Someone, let it not be you:

… Mortality rate is going up as virus MUTATES to conditions, it’s that smart. Unlike some humans.

…It eats up your lining of the throat and lungs, along with the fine hairs protecting them, the sweepers, the first line of defense

…What flu or bronchitis ever shut down a whole country?

How healthy are you? I’m pretty fit. I don’t know about my cilia. A HEALTHY 32-year-old male is going to die now, taking care of somebody sick through negligence, because of the cavalier presidential and entitled attitudes surrounding him. …How’s your health insurance? I had a three-week stay in ICU– $150,000+ not counting follow up visits and medications.


Stop parroting “fake news.”

It is no longer business as usual. We are in crisis mode. Help someone….It’s fun to do right.

The eye-witness accounts on the GROUND ALL OVER THE WORLD and coming into my 5,000-friend newsfeed, I can’t keep up with all the notifications and ACTUAL NEWS REPORTS… from physicians, staff, hospitals, boards, clinics, morgues…. Regular people crying real, not crocodile, tears over very dead daughters, mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, whole sets of grandparents, in one single week. Is it worth it? Fun, that is; I like to have fun. This is not It.

And they ALL HAVE THE SAME SENTENCE as their ending:


Don’t you read?

Get over yourself. You’re going to exterminate an entire generation first…including the band members, and their families, who play for our FUN. If my holing up… will save just ONE life, SOMEBODY’S CHILD, I’m all in!

You don’t need to be right. You just need to DO RIGHT, my high school motto.

Pretend it’s your kid, to preserve and protect. …

The Truth is out there. You just gotta poke around…

Show some respect for your Elders. They know more than you.

March 12, 2020

It was a TERRIBLE decision to not cancel the AWP writers conference…. 14,000… sold out…. 40% cancellation and lots of empty bookfair tables. Lots of hugging and kissing in jest. …Everyone traveling, most on public transportation. I knew this was going to blow up big by the time they flew home, to infect their families and communities. Hard not to talk at a writers’ conference, face to face, breathing in each other’s air. 8-12 feet is low end of safe distance. I keep that distance from people when I have to go the ATM… Big enclosed space? Potentially thousands of millions of the virus airborne and contained. Think about it.

I’m not going to say, “I told you so,” but I knew this was going to be very bad for all. Ever since I was geeky girl, I studied different viruses, wanting to be a cellular biologist. I’ve read every plague book and study you can imagine, including HIV.

I need to buy a thermometer. …

First time out today. I’m the only one touching things with wipes. Yogurt places and Chinese restaurants, closed.

…You can … take every caution imaginable…then some dude dry-coughs right in your face in the city bus…

As you age your fine hairs in the respiratory tract decay like an old brush, you have fewer and they don’t move as fast sweeping the crud out.

They’re going to call it:  Old And In The Way Syndrome. OWSy.

Eyes are the WORST … because of the tear ducts, which are like the highway to heaven for any viral infection. … thought about wearing sunglasses but I forgot that day.…

We’re smarter than a virus, which is wily indeed. … this virus “somehow” uses the body’s own immune system to replicate. When you read “somehow” in a medical study, that’s never a good sign.

Oh, yes, Eucalyptus essential oil: after the steam died, I gargled with it. There’s a gag reflex, but good way to coat the palate.

D-3 and vitamin C. … recommended when reports of the virus first came out… EVERYONE is out of ZINC.


Bottled water and toilet paper were never on my shopping list. I think it’s an urban myth. Loose stools, however, are one of the early overlooked symptoms of the virus and how it transmits: aerosolized every time someone flushes. In a public bathroom. Think about it.

What is “brain fog”? … It’s one of the symptoms of the COVID-19 Virus.

This afternoon I went to buy medicinal tinctures and hemp milk and a thermometer. On the way there… walked in front of a moving car. … into the store…realized I forgot my purse….went back… only to remember that I forgot the bag of wipes…in my hand. I went back … to the store. Every time I got in line, I got out because I forgot to get something, about 5 times, every time intending to get hemp milk and a thermometer. I got home, lined up my purchases, and realized I forgot Eucalyptus essential oil… So, I went back. I bought Astragalus tincture instead, and hemp milk. I kept forgetting my things after paying, and they had to remind me as I headed off… I got home, washed my hands, and couldn’t find the bag…took almost an hour, couldn’t find it anywhere…decided to go back to the store. I had a vision of it under arm, so I picked up my coat, and there it was folded in the sleeve.

Never did get a thermometer.

…Chest pain: new symptom, like nothing … ever felt before. In the middle of my chest between the sternum and where the ribs start.….

Sweats: I broke out in a sweat. … I’m keeping the heat to 70, sometimes 72. … No fever yet.

Fatigue. …don’t feel like I could walk all the way around the lake, like just 3 days ago. If the band were playing tonight, for free, and I had a ride, I wouldn’t go dancing. Now you know I’m sick. …

March 13, 2020

…I have no health insurance, no primary physician, no money, no credit, and no transportation. …Soon as this hits my lungs, I’m headed to ER for respiratory failure.

The respiratory tract lining is its filet mignon. The lower lungs are its prime Maine Lobster.

“This ain’t no disco. This ain’t no party. This ain’t no fooling around.”

I look on the bright side, I have no loved ones here to risk infecting.

You can’t get it from sharing a sandwich …. You breathe it in, or it enters through eye pores… You can get it walking into the bathroom after someone…has taken a dump…Save your business for home

I live between both ends of the candle. …

It’s time-consuming to self-cure. Takes longer to sit in a … clinic waiting room, or ER loaded with people worse off than you… and risk infecting the caregivers, who don’t have treatment or cure. …

March 16, 2020

Now in the UK. It’s 12 weeks PAST “recovery”… Told you so. 

Research and report. That’s my Crisis Mode. I turn into Ms Spock….

Symptomatic in all the stages. DEFINITELY WORSE AFTER ELDERBERRY!!!

…Works for flu, great. NOT THIS! 

LAUGH-ter is the best MEDICINE. KNOW-ledge is the best DEFENSE.

Positivity wins La RAZA.


March 20, 2020




… I feel like I’m treating this thing aggressively, and winning…

March 22, 2020


Oscillococcinum & Eucalyptus essential oil steam + 4000 mg C!!!

4000-6000 IUs D 3 in 1000 IU drops!

180 mg chelated zinc

Constant hot liquids

Positive attitude

LOTS of laughs

Keep your sense of humor


(Save your local musicians first.

They keep us all alive!)


…You feel better a few days after stage One. You want to go out, like dancing. That’s how the suckers get around. Don’t let them.

March 24, 2020


I want to clean my kitchen!

Now I know I’m cured!


Uh…I’ve only not felt like cleaning my kitchen in like, uh, ten months…

But I’m having SO MUCH FUN watching the water twirl down bathroom sink and it’s SO sparkly clean! Kitchen sink, too. …

March 25, 2020

…Not celebrating yet. … my sense of smell and taste … returning….hoping I can still devour whole wedges of oranges. I’m starting to taste sour again.

I cannot begin to describe what it felt like to go from a HEALTHY, energetic and youthful person who could walk 5.6 miles around the lake twice a week to being a weak, old, sick and sweating, palsied woman who couldn’t walk three blocks to the ATM.


Today I had to run an errand. I didn’t run but I walked fast….as usual I passed everyone who wasn’t running… I checked the map: I walked 3.8 miles. Back on track for backpacking / hiking training. (!!)


…a list of my treatment regimen now going around. … a few lines left off…maybe the most important: “Positivity wins The Race” (meaning human) and “NEVER LOSE YOUR SENSE OF HUMOR.”

Hug the Earth in your daily Gratitude Prayer. It will hug you back, and keep you on it. I type these words to you with tears, so like I know a poem is finished, I know these words must be true.

“May you live long and prosper.”

I love you ALL.

May 13, 2020

Empathy is the word of the age. It’s not an economic crisis. What we’re facing today is an empathetic crisis, the consequences of a lack of imagination.

June 18, 2020

I get nervous lately when little mild symptoms come back, like yesterday my fingertips were numb and tingly….that’s why this Illness is so sneaky. You don’t know you have it, then when you do it’s like wading across a reef ankle deep until without warning you’re in the deep water and caught in the rip tide getting washed out to sea. …

July 2, 2020

Our President spoke these words in this order: “I don’t know if you need mandatory because you have many places in the country where people stay very long distance.” 

Meanwhile, college students in Tuscaloosa…infected…are holding Coronavirus parties with others in competition to see who gets it first. 

It’s called herd mentality.

Mad Cow Disease…

July 24, 2020

“Dr. Jean Bousquet, professor of pulmonary medicine at Montpellier University in France, said diet may play a larger role in determining who contracts the virus and how well they fare fighting it off.”

I’m planting cabbage today… a lot of cabbage in slaw and soup and stir fry, and used to drink sour kraut juice daily. …


I’m glad there’s FINALLY something about the role of nutrition and COVID-19.

Since having a child at 40, I learned to pay attention to my cravings and listen to my body. Besides oranges and tangerines, which are not my favorite fruit, soon as I got sick, I was craving asparagus. Good thing it was spring. I eat it at least 3 times a day. Turns out, besides stopping cancer growth and repairing cells and liver damage, it’s an anti-inflammatory agent, and this is an inflammatory disease.

Everyone who has had it says the same thing: It’s like no other illness… not chicken pox, not rheumatic fever, not pneumonia, not tuberculosis, and definitely not “just flu.”Flu, for one, doesn’t make your fingertips numb, or your toes bruised for no reason that hella hurt.

The first stage symptoms are subtle as a mild hangover or allergies or a bad hot dog outside a venue, if you eat such things. (I did that week I was infected.)

July 26, 2020

It’s a strange time & place when your spellcheck knows, “I’m so glad you’re alive.”

Consider I have 5,000 Facebook friends plus followers, most I know, have met, or are actual friends in real life….told my … neighbor, and his maskless guests laughing into my front door as I was trying to enter, I have five friends on Facebook who are already dead from the virus, and so many more “I’m so glad… are alive”

August 3, 2020

Lorna Dee is missing soul to soul communication.

I get it after readings, often with complete strangers…who then become my Facebook friends, and friends. I used to get it between sets and after shows with my dancing buddies, and friends. And this is the longest time between life partners. I always get into deep soul to soul conversations with my significant others; that’s why they’re, um, significant. It’s what’s missing in The Great Pandemic.

September 1, 2020

A fellow COVID-19 survivor with weird lingering symptoms was diagnosed by her doctor with “language fatigue.” Apparently, it’s a thing.

I’m beginning to wonder if I have “language fatigue.” I remember a friend after a traumatic brain injury being told “not to think.” How do you do that? If you’re a thinker by trade? I haven’t been able to read… for months now. Yeah, it makes me tired just to think of it. I read the news…. I read snippets from Facebook, but prefer to listen to music over readings…

I can’t read my own poetry, or other people’s. Not like before, not whole books… It’s not that I can’t…. It’s that I don’t feel like it. Language fatigue.

… Actually, I feel that with this latest brush against my own mortality, I’m writing more and better…writing poetry is an involuntary action. Or as I often like to say, “I’m not in charge. The Muse has a mind of Her own.” Reading poetry on the page is voluntary.

I can write poetry, but I can’t read it, not for longer than snippets.

Poets have to poem…

January 1, 2021

Not sure what I’m going to do with my usual rolled over NY resolution: Have more sex…

All books and no play make Lorna Dee… (nevermind)

My favorite resolution because it’s an easy one to keep.

This is the longest I’ve ever been single…

Try it. You’ll like it.

January 2, 2021

Told you so… 

One million cases in NY alone: “More than a third of the state’s total cases were reported in December as cold weather nudged people indoors, holidays increased social gatherings and residents tired of restrictions. On the first day of 2021, the U.S. surpassed 20 million Covid-19 cases — twice as many as the second-ranking nation, India.”


Stay home. Do your art. Play with your kids.

May 4, 2021

Get vaccinated. Trust a virus less than anything. If there’s an alien on Earth, it’s a virus. They don’t feck around, and neither should we.

May 13, 2021

I actually don’t mind wearing a mask… I never was attached to my face. Besides, “I think it makes me look like Zorro,” said Tonto.

CDC just announced all vaccinated people don’t have to wear masks….as if SOME people don’t lie.

May 25, 2021

Lorna Dee is feeling good to be feeling back to 100% normal. Meaning, she’s just weird enough & back to not acting her age. …

May 28, 2021

In a week I’ll be huggable again…


~ me


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<a href="" target="_self">Lorna Dee Cervantes</a>

Lorna Dee Cervantes

Lorna Dee Cervantes is an internationally acclaimed poet and one of the leading voices in Chicana / Chicano Literature. Her work has appeared in nearly 200 anthologies and textbooks, and her awards include the American Book Award, the NEA Fellowship award, and the Pushcart Prize. She offers a cultural element to the poetry world, infusing the struggles and beauty of being both a Mexican American and a woman.


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