Don't Call Us Dead Symbols & Objects

Danez Smith
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Red and blood

Red and the color blood appear throughout the collection as a unified motif symbolizing the intermingling of the human condition: life and death, desire and fear, health and illness. Blood, as a crucial component of the living body, naturally touches all of these spheres, and it recurs throughout the collection as the carrier of HIV, the pounding of desire, or the result of unjust wounds. The poem “recklessly” also draws on the Christian connotations of blood, in which the holy sacrament of communion contrasts poignantly with the vilification of HIV-infected blood. At times, blood is only implied by redness, particularly in “summer, somewhere.” Some of the boys in the “somewhere” remember “white shirts | turned ruby gowns,” an elegant way to reference their violent deaths (3).

The poet’s use of the color red outside the immediate context of blood symbolizes HIV/AIDS in the collection...

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This section contains 2,016 words
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