On April 22, 1993, 18-year-old 2nd Generation Jamaican youth Stephen Lawrence was attacked and stabbed to death in an unprovoked hate crime by a gang of white boys as he waited at a bus stop in London. His murderers were acquitted and allowed to walk free for 18 years, until two of his six killers were convicted of murder in 2011.
for Stephen Lawrence (September 13, 1974—April 22, 1993)
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.
Copyright © 2021 by Ann-Margaret Lim. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on October 21, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.