Once on a Smoky Afternoon in Winter
by Amit Shankar Saha

That day
a sudden appearance
at a cafe.
I wished for it,
but when do wishes come true,
unless it’s you.

You spoke of how
you adopted the hills
from the seven sisters,
and how you tickled her
fountains into laughter.
And all the time
I watched the Americano
dip in your cup
while my honey ginger tea
kept losing its steam.
You said you like your coffee hot
and winter is your favorite season.

I once wrote about the hills
and the sense of freedom.
Do you remember?
Did I shuffle some memories?
You said the cafe owner knows
you are always in a hurry.
This new year you will be
once again in the hills.
The hills have been calling.
Before leaving you say,
I know you will write a poem
about this, and I say, but…
and you say, you don’t have to
follow everything I say.

So this is that poem
about the hills,
about making the streams
run down the slopes with joy,
about making the trees
cry out in happiness,
about making a cloud
revolve around a smoke.

Photo by Luca. 

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This poem was written during the start of winter in 2021, when I wished to meet a friend and she miraculously appeared at the café giving me a surprise. We were coming out of a pandemic and the lockdown situation as survivors. I was going through a lean period of poetic inspiration, and when we met she spoke of things she had never spoken of, especially about her daughter. That gave birth to this poem.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Amit Shankar Saha is the author of three collections of poems titled Balconies of Time, Fugitive Words, and Illicit Poems. His poems have appeared in The Yearbook of Indian Poetry in English 2020 and 2021, The Best Indian Poetry 2018 and Converse: Contemporary English Poetry by Indians. He has won numerous awards and is also a Pushcart Prize, Griffin Poetry Prize, and Best of Net nominee. He has a PhD in English from Calcutta University and teaches in the English Department at Seacom Skills University. He is the Editor-in-Chief of EKL Review. His website is