Buffalo. A father's funeral. Memory. And Lucille Clifton merges her formidable weapons of poetry with the power of her prose, giving us a memoir of stark and profound beauty. Her story focuses on the lives of Caroline, "born among the Dahomey people in 1822," who walked North from New Orleans to Virginia in 1830 when she was eight years old; Lucy, the first black woman to be hanged in Virginia; and Gene, born with a withered arm, the son of a Yankee carpetbagger and the author's grandmother. Lucille Clifton tells us about the death of her father and mother and all that life and love and triumph that came before and remains even now. "I look at my husband," writes Ms. Clifton, "and our six children and I feel the Dahomey women gathering in my bones." Ms. Clifton's poetry has been called "lean, hard and graceful." But there are no accurate adjectives to describe her prose. Let's just say perfect.