What Fell

for Temuera


It was Fall in the Tropics or what
they call Fall. Nothing fell.
Every leaf a last leaf
painted onto a wall.
Memories settled gently
onto the array of islands.
Learning American-as-a-second-
language the boy asked, What falls?
Well, mist falls on the hills of
Honolulu. Rain falls.
Fumes fall on Downtown.
The pens of the students
of Noelani Elementary
land on the page and each morning
their hands fall onto their hearts
in allegiance to the flag.
The school day flutters slowly
downwards towards hometime.
Planes fly in from LA bringing
everything. The sun sinks
quickly below the horizon
leaving a green lip like
a mussel.
The Hep B shot fell
into the boy’s arm. Ouch!
The rising inflection of sentences
was inverted to become
a falling.

Once people from the Continent
of America fell, fell, down into
the Pacific bringing their prized
sicknesses—ouch!—and their homesickness
for Fall and in their agony
they called nothing falling
or at least a few things falling Fall
even though leaves fell gradually
throughout the year
without fuss or comment.
Of course, there was The Fall
which is perhaps what they
really couldn’t live without.
And going right back, that time
the sun exploded and the fallout
created the solar system
its stars and planets
and the animals on the land
and the fish in the sea
the thoughts in our heads
and the living and the dead
rising and falling.

Anne Kennedy has published three works of fiction and a book of poetry Sing-song. A new narrative poem, The Time of the Giants, is due from Auckland University Press in May 2005. She lives in Honolulu.

Kennedy comments: ‘Eighteen months ago my family and I moved to Honolulu. Everyone had said “the children will adapt quickly”. In the first few days of being here, the children knowing no one, it seemed we had moved to the moon. It was true, they did adapt quickly, but it appeared to me to be an enormous process full of the most sensory details and the grandest ideas, on a scale it can never be for adults. I wrote “What Fell” for our son as a tribute to his amazing capacity to take on his surroundings.’

Poem source details >



Auckland University Press author page
New Zealand Book Council writer file
Trout (as editor)
Poetry New Zealand