Poems of Xue Tao
A Gift for Su Thirteen, Middle Deputy
In Luoyang, the air on the streets is stifling and
you wish you were under autumn skies with your hawks.
Today, you had to seal the emperor's war decrees.
As you leave, you must shake off your severity.
The title indicates that Su is thirteenth in line to be the head of his family or clan. And Xue Tao's use of this shows that she is quite familiar with Deputy Su. When you refer to someone this way, all the insiders know who you are talking about. But strangers would have no idea who Su Thirteen was. Given this familiarity, it may be that Su was just promoted to a Middle Deputy rank, which Xue Tao celebrates in the title. Otherwise, a simple Su Thirteen would do.
This poem must come from the days in Xichuan. It might be that Deputy Su is the person often sent from the capital to deliver orders to Wei Gao's district. He might be an older man, close to retirement, because he seems to come from Luoyang and not Chang'an. Luoyang was the older, eastern capital. It was more laid back than Chang'an and officials who wanted a quieter life tried to find a way to be assigned there.