One Summer: a poem in memory of Stephen Lawrence by Ann-Margaret Lim

Jamaican poet Ann-Margaret Lim was published on the Academy of American Poets’ Poem-a-Day today (October 21).

The poem is a memorial to Stephen Lawrence, the 18-year-old who was murdered by a gang of white thugs at a bus stop in London in 1993. Investigations into the murder were rife with corruption allegations, and a subsequent inquiry revealed the underbelly of racism in British society – and, indeed, institutional racism. Two men were eventually found guilty of Stephen’s murder in 2012. Stephen’s father said that his son’s murder “opened the country’s eyes” to racism. The case is now “inactive” according to the police.

Stephen Lawrence is buried in a family plot in Jamaica. (Photo: BBC)

For me, Ann-Margaret’s poem is surprisingly intimate, as if she knew Stephen well – filled with memories of adolescent love and happiness. In a sense, we all knew him well.

Stephen’s parents, Doreen and Neville, were both Jamaican-born. Stephen is buried in Clarendon, Jamaica, his mother’s birthplace. April 23, 2021 was the third Stephen Lawrence Day in the UK.

Ann-Margaret Lim.

One Summer

In the dream, Stephen  
you’re thicker than when we were young
but thoughtful, as a first kiss.  

We had one summer in Kingston 
before England’s white boys 
kicked, clubbed, knifed you.   

Too brief again, this August light 
its hours shifting. And hate, a hungry  
animal that only takes.  

The day your family stood above  
your grave, swept by coconut palms 
and a small bird orchestra 

I smashed the shuttlecock  
repeatedly against my backyard wall
my grief knocking back 

against the day’s blunt silence. 
What loves still lives, transforms  
my days, each night 

each decade passing—  
I follow you, and return to the gate 
you towered over  

that careless summer 
when you were just a boy  
laughing against the sky 

and I still believed in the light  
and what it makes of us.

Stephen Lawrence.

P.S. Here’s another poem by Ann-Margaret which I love.

7 thoughts on “One Summer: a poem in memory of Stephen Lawrence by Ann-Margaret Lim

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