coiled like a lyncher’s rope,
Lips—old scars, or the first red blisters,
Breath—the last sweet scent of cane,
And her slim body, white as the ash
of black flesh after flame.”
This poem is a description of black life. Toomer presents features of a body that are neutral — call these shared properties (each person, regardless of race, bares the above properties). After listing a shared property, the poem comments on black ontology. The nature of being black is being unable to escape violence. To be black, this poem suggests, is to confront violence.