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Three Poems​​

by  Janet Umble Reedy,

MCC Thailand Country Representative, 1987-1990

MCC Vietnam Country Representative, 1990-1992

The Host

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. 

Culture Shock


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.

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