In Search of Panama


David Litchfield

for Liberty and Phoenix

(inspired by The Trip to Panama by Janosch and a sermon by the Reverend Dr Hugo Petzsch)

Beneath a white bridge that crossed a river wide
Was a little stone house with a garden outside.

It was home to Little Tiger and her friend Little Bear,
For as long as they knew they'd always lived there.

The house had a roof of an upturned boat,
Cracked glass for windows, for curtains a coat,

To finish it off was a garden gnome.
It wasn't much but they called it their home.

One morning as they sat and spoke by the shore
Little Tiger looked up then spoke no more

For there was a box and it floated on by.
Fish it out of the stream Little Bear did try.

Little Tiger helped; they caught it together.
Little Bear then knew they'd be friends forever.

On the box was a stamp that did proudly declare:
"Produce of Panama", read Little Bear.

Inside it was fruit, both yellow and ripe: 
A buch of bananas - his favourite type.

"What a wonderful place this Panama must be,
where the sun always shines and bananas are free!"

Stuffing their mouths by the calm water's edge
The two friends shook hands in making a pledge.

"A hunting this Panama off we will go
And find it we will come rain, hail or snow!"

They packed their bags and with a final farewell
Their home had become an empty shell.

A new place they'd find in great Panama
With a pool, a gym and maybe a bar.

Into Bear's back Little Tiger bumped
for Bear had stopped; he was looking quite stumped

Not knowing which way this Panama lay
"A road sign we need", Little Bear did say

"I have an idea", exclaimed little Tiger,
"Pass me the box, we need it no longer"

Laying the box down she pulled out the slat
upon which was printed "Panama", flat 

Snapping a branch to make a road sign,
she bound them together with some gum and a vine

Then, planting it firmly into the ground
the sign now pointed to where Panama's found

"How splendid indeed", proclaimed Little Bear,
"We now know they way!" and off set the pair.

They walked up the river and into the trees
to a chorus of crows and the bumbling of bees

Soon they discovered a fallen tree trunk
made into a house by Sally the Skunk.

A circular door was carved in the wood
And on the moss roof a chimney was stood.

"Good day, Sally Skunk, we've come very far.
Pray tell us, please - is this Panama?"

Shaking her head she said it was not
But offered them shade as the day grew hot.

"Come into my home and put up your feet"
She showed them inside which was tidy and neat.

"Sit down my friends whilst I pour us a drink 
And where is this Panama? On this I will think."

Sally gave them some tea and some toast
Then suggested that Panama was down by the coast?

"Oh how great, how cool that'd be,"
said Little Bear, who'd not seen the sea.

Laying down more toast, the skunk shook her head, 
and with a slight frown this she then said:

"Don't get excited for I must confess,
I don't know if it's there, it was only a guess

Another problem is, it's quite far away
to get there you'd need a week and a day!

But, friends, you can stay here for a while
there's no need today to walk one more mile!"

They thanked her kindly and would stay the night
but decided to leave at the dawn's first light

When morning broke Little Tiger did utter,
through a mouthful of toast smeared in warm, tasty butter,

"I was rather hoping for bananas in reams
and this is not Panama, the land of our dreams."

Agreeing to continue to find Panama
they waved their goodbyes and shouted, "Ta ta!"

Happy to be out on the road again
they stopped for a snack at a quarter past ten

Once they had eaten and filled up their tums
they noticed a mouse that was eating their crumbs

So Little Bear, who was not afraid of mice,
said, "Hello little mouse, can I ask your advice?"

"Eeek!" cried the mouse and ran to a ditch
from where he peeked out and his nose did twitch

"Don't be alarmed, friend," said Little Bear,
"We mean you no harm; we wouldn't dare!

We've walked all the way as we don't have a car,
Pray tell us please - Is this Panama?"

In a tiny wee voice, his body all a-quiver
these trembling words the mouse did deliver

"I'm sorry I've not heard of this place that you seek,"
the last of which he said with a squeak.

"But my ditch is large and there's plenty of space
you're welcome to share it if you need a new place"

Thanking him kindly they gave it a try
but it was rather too deep and its sides were quite high.

"It's damp and it's dark, there are no sun beams,
and this is not Panama, the land of our dreams."

Agreeing to continue to find Panama
they waved their goodbyes and shouted, "Ta ta!"

Day after day their journey wended
How long would it be before it had ended?

But on trooped the friends, their minds decided
and a distant memory the place they'd abided

For an arduous journey it's easier to cope
when it's shared with a friend who inspires deep hope

Bear smiled at his friend of whom he was fond
and on they went but soon came to a pond.

The pond was round and it was fringed with green reeds,
and a whispering wind blew and winnowed their seeds.

A graceful tree swept down by its side, 
an old weeping willow, as tall as was wide

Then a ripple trippled 'low the arch of the willow,
as up popped a fish; it was a fine looking minnow.

"Good day," said Little Bear, "Can you help us we're lost.
Across this land we have crissed and have crossed.

We've travelled long under sun, moon and star
Pray tell us please - Is this Panama?

"I'm sorry to say that no it is not
but you look very weary for how far you have got"

"You're welcome to stay with me if you wish.
You know it's great living the life of a fish"

"The neighbours are nice, except Mr Pike.
He, more than all, I really don't like"

"More often than not he wants me for dinner,
That is, 'til last Tuesday when he swallowed a spinner!"

Thanking him kindly they stepped into the pool,
and sat on the bottom where the water was cool

Then out shot Pike and he thrashed in the water!
Snapping at the friends intent on their slaughter!

Hot on their heels Pike chomped with its teeth
as they leapt from the pond and what lurked beneath

Escaping in time to the top of the bank
Down to the ground, safe and sound, they sank.

"It's rather too dangerous here or so it seems
and this is not Panama, the land of our dreams."

Agreeing to continue to find Panama
they waved their goodbyes and shouted, "Ta ta!"

Not far from the pond they could hear the river
and glinting under sun, a silver ribbon, a sliver

The river roared over rapids and bubbled,
Little Bear was concerned and a little bit troubled

"It's not very safe, we cannot cross here!"
The idea of slipping did fill him with fear

They began to wonder if it was time to head back
but then arrived at a spot where the river grew slack

Here white lillies covered the surface calm
and here they could play and come to no harm

Laughing and jumping from pad to pad
when was it last this much fun they'd had?

All of a sudden Little Bear nearly faltered 
and just in time Little Tiger had halted

Sat quietly watching them was a large slimy frog
its mouth wide in wonder, its eyes all agog!

"Good day, young friends" he said with a croak,
"Your play caught me napping, I just awoke.

Now, what brings you along to my fine water hole?"
So asked Little Bear, if they were nearing their goal:

"A-hunting the land of our dreams we are
Pray tell us please - Is this Panama?"

"I'm not quite sure, for I'm just an amphibian,
but I believe it may be in the Caribbean."

Leaping in an arc, in a grand belly flop
into the water the frog did plop.

Popping up to the surface the green frog then said
"You're welcome to stay here if you want instead!"

Thanking him kindly they thought they would see
if stopping here for a while content they could be.

It wasn't much later and the sun had set
a well earned rest they needed to get

Nestling for warmth under the shine of the moon
they fell asleep very quickly, they'd been walking since noon

They snored and they dreamed that they were boating,
asleep on their bed which was a lilly pad floating.

When the day dawned they awoke with a fright
for their little green pad had broken free in the night

Around and around on the current they spun
They felt dizzy and sick - this wasn't much fun!

Soon they agreed they could bear it no more
and leapt from the pad and swam to the shore

Clambering out, they shook themselves dry
and continue their search they decided to try

They wandered along the top of a ridge
and before too long they came to a bridge

They climbed the bridge (which was painted all white)
and into the light where the sun shone quite bright

Shading his eyes by raising his hand
Little Bear looked around, surverying the land

Spying something, his focus did harden
Across the other side lay an overgrown garden

And in its middle was a beautiful home
it reminded his somewhat of the one he had known

"Come Little Tiger I think I have found it!"
They crossed to the house and ran all around it.

"My how it reminds me of the place we did leave
but bigger and better if you can believe"

Just then Little Tiger did spy on the ground
a fallen road sign, "Hey look what I've found!"

She picked up the sign and peered at the wood
though faded and faint just read it she could

Spelling out the letters it said "Panama"!
"We've found it at last hip hip, hurrah!"

A long way they'd travelled since they'd departed,
not realising now they'd ended up where they started

But happy they were as they cleared the garden tangle
The grass is always greener seen from a another angle!