Right off the bat, we've got our where: Beale Street, Memphis, Tennessee (for more on this lovely locale, check out "What's Up with the Title" and "Setting.") Now for the what. We're talking love here, folks.
But that love is a fist – a brown one, with hard knuckles. That fist is hitting a woman's face, crushing her lips and giving her a black eye. Yikes. We're not talking about love anymore, are we? Even though the fist is causing some serious damage, this woman tells the fist to hit her again. And finally, we get the who. This woman? Her name is Clorinda.
As you read, it's important to remember that this is a metaphor. It's possible that no one is being hit at all. Perhaps this poem is talking about love, and how it can feel violent, even without physical blows.