She sits in the doorway
with her hand-printed cardboard sign
bearing the word “Donations.”
Her voice competes against the sounds
of pedestrian traffic, feet marching on cement
moving up and down stairs
Chasing trains and dreams.

This day a young man her age
offers her a clear plastic bag of lemons.
She tells him she prefers pears.
He responds (seeking clarification),
“You mean you don’t want these…?

Awkward silence, followed by reluctant acceptance
underlined with disappointment
“No, I’ ll take them…”
By this time he is kneeling at her feet.
She looks at him, her words underscored
with impatience/suspicion/sarcasm.
“Why do you give me these lemons?”
He replied “Because I was homeless once and I wanted lemons…”


Janet Cormier is a painter, writes prose and poetry, and performs comedy. JC prefers different and original over pretty. She loves collecting stuff, but cleaning not so much. Janet also talks to strangers…a lot. Her column now appears weekly on Oddball Magazine.