The boy wanted to say something else other than, "Thank you, ma'am" to Mrs. Luella Bates Washington Jones, but although his lips moved, he couldn't even say that as he turned at the foot of the barren stoop and looked back at the large woman in the door. Then she shut the door.
It is from the story named "Thank you, ma'am" by Langston Hughes.
Can "barren stoop" mean "the edge of the step"? but I did not find the "barren" means as a "step".