Once, in Shanghai, years ago, late at night, near the Bund, when there for a visit from Tianjin, my hair down to the middle of my back, on a bridge, I was approached by a woman. In heavily accented English, she said, rapid fire, Hello. I love you. Fifty kuai. In Chinese, I responded, 虽然五十块不算太贵, 你没看到我是学生。很少学生买得起那么贵。我负担不起你的服务,可是,当诗人,我请你喝杯咖啡可以。行不行? She consented. Over coffee, at a nearby café, we chatted. She agreed that I had all of the attributes of a poet. She asked my age. I was then 33. She said that the proof would be if I died by the time I was 36 – as all true poets die young.

Indeed, the title of poet comes only with death. Only she or he who is loved by a poet will never die. ‘Til that end, I remain an aspiring poet.