Ballad of the Homeless Woman

She lived behind the cyclone fence a few blocks from the freeway going down to Silicon Valley, hers an intertidal zone with big box stores like Home Depot and a 24-Hour Fitness where cars skidded past platoons of day-workers in hoodies who waited for the call. Glad she didn’t have to stand there. Near her tent was a Shell Gas station that charged fifteen cents more than the High Street Gas & Food on the other side of the overpass selling burritos for $3.95. No car of her own. She walked or took the bus, knew how to turn a five-dollar bill into several meals at the Dollar Store on International Boulevard where she used a microwave near the bathroom to heat up containers of Top Ramen, got herself a free cup of coffee even though the manager said he was sick of her smelling up the place. She washed at the Mexican restaurant on the corner whenever Tatiana was behind the grill. Night-time, she heard the AmTrak on its way to Sacramento, looked over the fence to see cloudy faces. High in the sky, she watched airplanes take off from the Oakland Airport, but at this particular moment she came up short, a bulldozer as big as an elephant, remembered when her aunt brought her to the zoo after her mother had left; said she would send for them as soon as she found work. An elephant had reached into her hand to vacuum a peanut from her fingers. Inside the fence, the bulldozer knocked down everything; a man with a blank face told her to leave. She took off like an airplane on a run-way going home.

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About Lenore Weiss

Lenore's collections include "Tap Dancing on the Silverado Trail" (2011) from Finishing Line Press, “Sh’ma Yis’rael” (2007) from Pudding House Publications, and "Cutting Down the Last Tree on Easter Island" (West End Press, 2012). Her writing has won recognition from Poets&Writers (finalist in California Voices contest) and as a finalist for Pablo Neruda Prize, Nimrod International Journal. The Society for Technical Communication has recognized her work regarding Technical Literacy in the schools. All material is copyrighted on this site and cannot be used without the author's permission.
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