Chapter 3

Going Forward Backwards

Puff climbs halfway down the old camphor tree,
Then scans the ground for where Junglow might be.
Puff catches his shadow faintly ahead
Walking backward into a lush fern bed.
Then Puff inches himself down to the ground
Where Junglow is now nowhere to be found.

Puff whispers, hoping Junglow is nearby,
Then listens closely for a soft reply.

“My name is Puff, Junglow. Please let me know—
Are you heading to town and may I go?”

Soon from the shadows with a friendly style
Comes the voice of Junglow that makes Puff smile.

“Why do those sweet berries
Seem to grow only there
On that steep mountain face?
Such a wonderful taste.
Make me feel light as air
With a hint of cherries.”

“But I must go alone.
You would probably fall.
The town is over there,
But make sure you prepare
To run. No time to crawl.
Focus on going home.”

Puff watches Junglow back into the bush,
His tail bending branches with a firm push.
Puff knows if he stays that he will be found
Or get lost in the dark searching for town.

He decides for now to track down Junglow
By moonlight and follow where he will go.

Puff pauses, then follows his newfound friend,
Hoping his snow-white hair will nicely blend
Into the dark green background all around
As he makes his way through without a sound.
Soon beyond some bushes he sees the back
Of Junglow searching for a tasty snack.

“Hungry, Puff?” Junglow asks, turning to see
A bamboo shoot near the base of a tree.
He reaches for it—then gives a quick pull
As Puff is now starting to feel quite full.
Puff has a comment he wishes to say
Before he asks Junglow if he can stay.

“Walking backward, Junglow, seems a bit strange.
I mean… strange, but nothing you need to change.”

Puff thought he might have offended his friend
Cleaning off his food like there was no end.
Junglow stares at Puff with a relaxed smile
Then whispers after chewing for a while.

“Puff, if we understand
Only what we observe
And I mimic your walk
And talk like others talk
Or bow to who they serve,
What makes that life so grand?

“I have chosen my way
To catch what others miss.
Stars falling from the sky,
The twinkle in the eye

Of a lover in bliss
Is worth the price I pay.

“For I believe the past
Should be remembered well.
So as I look behind
With an uncluttered mind,
I can then see and tell
All that was meant to last.

“If you want to join me
Then follow close behind.
Although it may be true
I am following you—
You with the forward mind.
Life is funny, you see?”

At times, Junglow causes Puff’s brain to hurt.
But for now, they must keep their ears alert
And proceed through the moonlit trees and ferns
Very quietly, around hairpin turns.
Junglow leads the way which he knows quite well.
Puff follows blindly like under a spell.

Soon they reach a nearly vertical cliff.
Looking all the way up makes Puff’s neck stiff
As he watches Junglow capably climb
While wondering if he has lost his mind.

“I misspoke, Junglow,” Puff shouts from the ground.
“This is a demanding cliff that you found,
Unsafe to climb even when it is light,
But insane climbing in the dead of night.

“I must turn around and get back to town,
Assuming there is something to be found.”

Junglow is acting like a superstar
Standing on a ledge playing air-guitar.
Then he stops after a passionate strum
And stares at Puff looking confused and glum.

“Why is it you declare
The town might not be there?”

“I was told the end of days is coming,
Foretold by explosions and loud drumming.”

“It is a normal day
Of going mad, I think.
Exploding shooting things
Like colored fire on wings.
They had a lot to drink,
But they will be okay.”

“That silly monkey lied straight to my face.
Now here I am lost in this gloomy place
With a clown that walks backward all the time,
Talking insanely or in muddled rhyme.”

Puff kicks some dirt then looks up the cliff face
To see Junglow vanished without a trace.

“Junglow! I am sorry I said those things.
Who really means what words their anger brings?
Show me where to climb to join you up there.
I can search for berries for us to share.”

No one answers as he begins climbing,
Chastising himself for such bad timing.

Puff remembers the Alps climbing this face
As he makes sure each foothold has its place.
He tugs on each crag to make sure they hold,
Lest they pull away from a life untold.

Puff has a fear of climbing in the night
Since plucked from a wall by an owl in flight.
Yet he forces himself up its steep face,
Feeling ashamed and bit in disgrace.
At last he ascends above the tree line
As the moonlight climb becomes more defined.

Puff notices a crag where he can sit
Just when he is about ready to quit.
He looks down at a one-hundred-foot drop
Then at a cloud guarding the mountain top.
Puff decides to sit back and catch his breath,
Quite content he did not fall to his death.

Puff turns, then notices there is a cave
Carved in the rock like a shadowy grave
Directly behind where he is sitting
Of which investigation seems fitting.
Then Puff observes a faint glow from inside
That seems like a place where Junglow might hide.

As he timidly moves inside the cave,
Feeling at this point anything but brave,
He sees a black pool the length of the room
Reflecting candles like a sacred tomb.
The ancient candles keep a steady flame
As Puff searches like a hide and seek game.

Puff is weary and lies down for a nap,
Ready to rejoin Kathy in a snap

As his tired mind begins to fade away,
While the sun rises and starts a new day.