by Janet Umble Reedy,
MCC Thailand Country Representative, 1987-1990
MCC Vietnam Country Representative, 1990-1992
Having no table,
he placed a cracked teapot
and one cup
without a handle
on the bed.
Having no tea,
he waved his hand
to offer us a drink
from the empty cup.
Grateful for his hospitality,
we thanked him.
I try to pretend
that I am not a foreigner,
but my arms and legs are too long
in the crowded aisles of the market,
and when I try to speak their language,
the shopkeepers mimic my accent
and double their prices.
Abandoning my illusion,
I purchase one small cabbage
and carry it home to the cook.
She is not a foreigner.
She knows the proper way to fix it.
Invisible, I wander through the supermarket
in my hometown,
no one remarking
when I speak the local language.
The other shoppers do not see the chasm
opening around the spot on which I stand.
Rainy Season in Hanoi
On the occasion of the arrest of a friend on political charges
gray sky, gray clouds
bicycles move silently over wet streets
riders, pedaling relentlessly, do not stop
always moving toward an opening
they weave through the intersections of the city
creating a giant tapestry of olive drab and navy blue
always struggling, yet surviving
these stoic faces looking straight ahead
know what is behind them
see everything, tell nothing
when the storm comes
they are not surprised
These and many more poems are contained in Reedy's 2019 poetry volume White Frames. Used with the author's permission.