Winter 2013: "Seeing the Unseen" Powerful Voice Winner Reyna Flores

Read Reyna's poem about a misunderstood young girl and a lonely old woman who find each other.
Eyes by Ahmed Sinan

Photo by Ahmed Sinan

Reyna Flores, a student of Stephanie Agnew at West Valley City School in Spokane, Washington, read and responded to the YES! Magazine article, "What Can Change When We Learn to See Each Other," by Akaya Windwood, a story about what it might feel like to live in a world where people don't acknowledge your existence. She is our Powerful Voice Winner for the Winter 2013 writing competition.

Writing prompt: “Imagine you accept Akaya Windwood's invitation to intentionally notice people you would normally ignore. Who would you notice? What would change for you and for that person?"



Finally Seen

Inspired by the story written by Akaya Windwood about people who normally are not noticed. She shows extreme emotional strength in her writing and motivated me to write this poem.


The dirt cakes her shoes.

Like white flour

sticking to freshly made bread.

She can see a huge,

looming house in the distance.

Ivy snaking

its way around the bricks and

brightly colored leaves,


the ground.

She hurries up the steps

and stands before the big oak door.



A flash of courage sparks her and she

stands on tiptoes

to reach.

Her tiny fingers grip the brass lion’s head.

She lifts and drops it twice,

making two loud thuds.

Echoing through the house.

A shudder rises

up her spine,

settling itself into her neck

which prickles with goose bumps

Footsteps pound.



Until they reach the door that swings open,

on rusty hinges.

But only a crack.

She stands taller, now. Facing the woman

at the door.

Standing in front

of the face that squints down at her

with beady eyes.


But respected.

She looks stern, but something lurks

Behind her sternness.

Something that the child cannot


And that is why she is here.

To find whatever it may be

that the woman

is hiding.

Underneath her surface,

that is unnoticed.

But she is not even sure

that this something


Like an invisible force

that can be felt, but is just out of reach of


She speaks quietly.

Barely audible.

About small things at first like

how she loves the

woman’s garden and what a beautiful autumn day it is.

But the scrunched up face stays

as sullen and pale as ever


The girl loses her courage.

Her hope.

Her dream.

She speaks more quietly and tells the woman that

she has bothered her too long

and that she will be going home now.

The woman looks like

she agrees,

keeping her nose

turned up.

But as the girl,

her spirits dampened,

walks disappointedly down the pathway,

something changes.

The air is

No longer thick and bordered with


She is still standing silently,

but there is a wet drop in the corner of one eye.

A dewdrop of feeling.

She feels for the child and is reminded

of someone.

Her own children.

The ones who left her.


Waiting for her to


To gain her money.

But this girl does not leave her alone.

She thinks not of her


her wealth

not of her mansion

her land

her food

her treasures

her riches.

No, this little girl

Who has close to nothing for herself,

cares for the old woman.

Because her heart

can leave no one alone.

She knows pain and sorrow.

Anger and humiliation.

Struggle and hunger.

But, yet, she is still willing

to give her love


To a mean, rich woman

who has none.

The woman, in her fine,

flowered dress.

With her pearl necklace.

With her wealth and pale skin.

She calls the little girl

in the tattered, plain dress.

With her bare neck.

With her poorness and her dark skin.

Back to the porch.

And the child turns her head hopefully,

toward the old woman.

She walks with anticipation in her

footsteps and puzzlement in her eyes.

The woman speaks one word

and the girl

enters her luxurious house.

They sit.

At the lavish table, decked in a white tablecloth.

At first they are silent.

But it lifts, like a fog.

Lifting to reveal the sun.

They eat and eventually talk and

share stories like friends.

The two,

although so utterly different,

find themselves

keeping each other company.

The old woman

is glad of finally having someone

to talk to and laugh with.

To share stories

and memories with.

Who will listen to what she has to say.

Who will respect her opinion.

Not because she is rich.

But because, underneath, she is kind.

And the girl feels as though she has

finally met someone

who respects her opinion

and most of all, does not care what color her skin


Even though

the old woman is rich with money,

the thing she is not rich with and still needs

is someone to notice her

for who she is.

And she feels better after someone does.

Like a great weight has been lifted

From her shoulders.

This, my friends, is how everyone should feel.




All of the bold words spell a message together.


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