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A poet in Hiding Place and the milk from Dear Neighbor

This Sunday, my buds and I talked to a poet, who then wrote for us. I learned that milk is more popular than hot chocolate, too.

The reason I like the Western district is becase of its mapping. You find alleys, slopes, and stairs twisted and turned in this old neighbourhood. You'd also see small, individual stores choosing to sprout among this typical fossil soil.

Hiding Place is a familiar but forgotten visit to me. I've been teaching about poetry, and I spotted a guest poet in this bookstore by coincidence. It's only natural for me to create a chance for my buds to get to know a poet in the real world.

The place is wider than I imagined for I know they feature only 10 new books every period. It soon occurred to me that they're willing to concede space for artworks and a lounge generously. Quite a rarity in Hong Kong.

Our star of the day - the poet, took one end of the wooden lounge by the floor-to-ceiling glass. We approached her at last after a brief greeting with one another. Like the Seven Dwarfs, we cornered the poet in lined seats, eager to learn about her unusual profession. At least that's what on my mind, the other six dwarfs were bashful to speak to our new friend.

In her khais coat and neat ponytail, the poet introduced herself to us as Forest and began to make small talk about our wherefrom. She then offered us to set the theme of our poem, and our thoughts remained scattered and vague, she recommended to pick a common thing among us.

The six buds pointed to me initially which I responded with a dismissive eye-roll. Forest could not possibly write about a stranger whom she'd conversed with only 3 minutes, besides, they were missing the point. We agreed on the theme 'friendship' gradually and fought over the poetry card being pink or blue. The votes called it blue. I wanted orange.

Forest mentioned that it takes 20 minutes for her creative juice to kick in, or as how I interpreted it, so we moved to Dear Neighbor, the cafe a few blocks away for an afternoon tea. Should have come as no surprise that it means a glass of cold milk to them. Well. They learned how to order food all right. I thought to myself as I sipped away my cup of chocolate hojicha bemusingly.

Time went by as I watched the dwarfs having folded origami, smeared ink-black vinegar on her mouth, melted M&M's into water before eating the now naked chocolate, and drinking the coloured water. Something seemed to be missing, a certain kind of structure.

I doubted that today's planning with a good heart only sufficed. In the other words, I could have pushed further and formed a solid idea about poetry in their minds, turning this into a 'proper' lesson. The back of my mind also reckoned, 'Why not take ease on the form and treasure the casual Sunday instead?'. Perhaps, that is the question that we ought to ask.

Our 'Friendship' poem, last but not least. What do you think?

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