Chapter 3

Above the Clouds

Earlier, the tired family of three
Wait at the terminal gate anxiously
For Puff to come around the carousel,
Yet he was somewhere else—Kathy could tell.
Then Mr. Taylor asks where Puff might be
To the Manager of Security.

While waiting for him to get off the phone,
They begin to feel nervous and alone.
He hangs up, searching for something to say
To this nice family from far away.

“I am so sorry for your trouble here.
Please have a seat…if you would be so kind.
We found your cage misplaced along the way,
But your cat is more difficult to find.”

“Where is our cat’s cage?” Mr. Taylor shouts,
As he scans the room for Puff’s whereabouts.

“In Switzerland. I am so sorry, sir;
I have not been informed how it got there.
But I purchased tickets for each of you
For an early morning flight on Swiss Air.

“There is nothing you can do till morning,
So please honor us as our guest tonight.
We have a room reserved just for you,
Then in the morning you can take your flight.

“He will be found as your little girl knows.
Keep your faith strong. Bring your fears to a close.”

* * *

This is becoming a very long ride,
Puff thinks as they drive up the mountainside.
There seems to be no end to this uphill climb,
But this road must come to an end sometime.
Puff can see comfortably in the night,
Assisted for a time by the pale moonlight.

Puff leaps on a large flat tire in the truck,
Forepaws on the side-panel and now in luck,
For his eyes can see just above the rim
All that is shimmering in front of him.
The tiny lights in the town miles below
Shine like grains of sand with a golden glow.

Puff stretches his neck more and looks straight down,
Then moves back quickly with a frightened frown.
There is a cliff at the edge of the road,
One to which there would be no mercy showed
If they drove too wide in a sleepy breath;
They would fall to a very certain death.

Puff hops off the tire to the truck’s bed
And jumps high to the cab window ahead
To warn the two they had better slow down
If they expect to make it back to town.

But the truck bounces so much that he falls
Again and again against the truck’s walls.

Puff then feels the air becoming quite cold,
As he witnesses a gray mist enfold.
He can barely see the truck anymore;
They have entered a cloudy corridor.
Puff sits on the tire and takes a breath
While avoiding it crushing him to death.

As the cloud thins, Puff can now see ahead
A new obstacle that fills him with dread.
He closes his eyes, not wanting to see
The dark tunnel with no real guarantee
Of what is lurking inside that black place;
He takes time to imagine Kathy’s face.

Before Puff has more reason for concern
They leave the tunnel then make a sharp turn.
Soon they ascend an abrupt uphill climb
Where the old truck slows and barely in time
Turns onto a much bumpier side road,
To park in a driveway where they unload.

Puff leaps from the tire as best he can,
Over the truck side-wall to grassy land.
There he scurries away behind a tree
To witness from there what will come to be.
Puff can see an alpine home in the night,
Outlined in silver by the pale moonlight.

The young man darts to the passenger side
To his grandmother, tired from the long ride.
They walk up a few steps to her front door,
Where they smile and share a loving rapport.
He gives her a hug and a quick goodbye,
Then she shuts the door after a long sigh.

Puff just wants to lie on Kathy’s warm lap
And fall sleep in a peaceful catnap.
But instead he mounts the steps to her door
And lies on the wool mat on the porch floor.
Then very quickly and without a peep,
Puff falls into a deep and restful sleep.

* * *

Later that morning, Puff hears the door sway,
Not the preferred way to begin his day.
He slept through the remainder of the night,
And stayed that way through the bright morning light.
The lady smiles and takes a breath of air,
Then speaks aloud like she knows Puff is there.

“Good morning, my curious little friend.
If you want, feel free to join me inside.
You must be hungry—and that is okay.
There is food I am happy to provide.”

She speaks with words Puff does not understand,
A different language in a strange land.
But somehow, he knows what she is saying.
Her small hands paint a picture conveying
That she has food or something to give him,
Making other prospects seem rather dim.

She leaves the door open as Puff slips in,
Watching what she does from a kindling bin.
While she is moving kitchen things around
Puff searches the home with barely a sound.
The walls are stone and the rest knotty pine
In a rustic yet elegant design.

Just a kitchen, living and bedroom there;
She is without much extra room to spare.
Puff then turns toward a picture window
With the most spectacular view to show.
Puff must sit down just to take it all in.
His jaw drops. He is lost where to begin.

Her alpine home is built into the rock
On the side of a mountain—to Puff’s shock.
The balcony has an oak rocking chair
Facing a scene that is beyond compare.
A bottomless gorge farther off drops down,
Where mountains that rise to the clouds are found.

They seem so close…and yet so far away,
Puff thinks, unaware things could look this way.
He hears the lady ask him to come near,
And since she is blind he is without fear.
Puff smells tuna fish’s heavenly scent,
Then laps up milk with her complete consent.

Puff finishes the meal then sounds a purr
To let her know he is thankful of her.
He scurries beneath the oaken table,
Watching her as best as he is able.
Puff decides he should let her have some room
While noticing she is holding a broom.

The woman puts her hand before her face
While she braces herself on the counter space.
She knows—hearing the purr—Puff is a cat,
And since there are no houses nearby, that
He was abandoned here beside the road
Or a missing pet the airport bestowed.

“Come here, little friend,” she says, kneeling down.
“My name is Anna, and as you can see
I truly love cats, having one for years.
You will be safe while you are here with me.”

Puff strolls toward her and brushes her hands,
Agreeing with her delicate commands.
Anna holds him close, pressed against her chest,
Making Puff feel like a respected quest.
She opens the door to the balcony,
Then reclines in her chair comfortably.

“I now must come up with a name for you.
You seem friendly so I will call you ‘Friend.’
It lacks imagination, some might say,
But there are some rules that were meant to bend.”