By Susan Anmuth

Every autumn
except last covid year
my Yorkie leads me
around the Saugerties garlic festival.
Neither of us knows how to read signs that say No Dogs.

This year we go a day late -- 
because now it’s getting personal.
could keep me from the October 2 
march for abortion rights.

So on Sunday not Saturday Xena the Warrior Princess and I meet up with my friend Irene, 
or as I ask Xena to call her, “Aunt Irene.”
Irene and I became friends at CCNY
when we were almost twenty,
cutting history classes to organize anti-racist rallies.

Is it too digressive
to mention
that we serially shared a guy,
her, for a few months before returning to the old boyfriend,
me, for the next seven years?

Now fifty years later,
between us
we have four grown kids, one grandchild, two dead husbands, a few bouts of esophageal cancer and some damn arterial blockages or other.
Though often it’s teeth that aggravate both of us any given day.

Irene is my only friend who like I spends like a fool.
Soft-necked, hard-necked, no necked garlic bulbs! 
Three-pound jar unprocessed honey, half a gallon half-sour pickles, the very darkest maple syrup. Chocolate covered bacon – me. Array of hot sauces – Irene. Chicken and sweet potato jerky treats – Xena. Well, for Xena.

Reluctantly we pass up
Buddha brand pesto,
though indisputably the best.
Irene keeps meaning to make her own pesto
with all the basil in her garden.

The weather on and off drizzly,
my dog a little wet. Sometimes a lot wet.
Fellow festival goers don’t hesitate
to hint that Xena needs a better mother.
Well, I tell her that myself sometimes. And anyway, the rain is warm.

Back at Irene’s home we watch “Mare of Easttown”
though Irene had already seen the seven episodes.
But I hadn’t and that’s the kind of friend Irene is.
I grew up in the show’s Delaware County locale and recognize every single place name.
What accent?

Monday we try on clothes from Irene’s closet and boxes.
Other years we’ve done this from my closet and boxes.
Depending on the decade, one of us is fatter
and takes the fat clothes the other no longer needs.
Usually that would be me.

On Tuesday Xena and I buy a pie at the High Falls Food Co-op
because I can’t pass up a sign that says Fresh Key Lime Pie.
And though no pie is worth the twenty-two fifty,
if a pie was, this one would be.
Then a hundred miles home in rush hour traffic to real life.

But first to be almost on time
for the first session
of my new poetry class.

One thought on “Catskill Oasis Bookends

  1. Hello Susan, This brought back so many memories . . . thinking of you and Irene on this rainy day. Message me on FB if you would like to catch up. A year later, I am coping but still reeling from losing my Jim . . .


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