There is a sequence of poems about an encounter with a fox; for me this sequence brings to mind larger issues of human-animal relations. I found the most powerful sequence to be about breast cancer. In the first poem in that sequence, Clifton evokes "audre" (i.e. Audre Lorde, another poet who has written eloquently on breast cancer). Also very moving is "lumpectomy eve," which captures the tenderness of "one breast / comforting the other."
Some poems explore the connection between African-Americans and Africa (these specific poems are "hag riding," "shadows," and "memphis"). Some poems are more overtly political or sociological. "the son of medgar," for example, deals with the trial of the assassin of Medgar Evers. "lorena" is a surprisingly gentle poem which evokes the story of a real-life woman who sexually mutilated her husband.
The final sequence in the book, "From the Book of David," draws from the biblical narratives of King David. These poems explore the violence of David's life, and seem to be asking how we can reconcile David the warrior with David the poet.
Clifton writes with a quiet power in this collection. I recommend this book to all those interested in poetry, African-American studies, and/or women's studies.