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?"
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.
its way around the bricks and
brightly colored leaves,
She hurries up the steps
and stands before the big oak door.
A flash of courage sparks her and she
stands on tiptoes
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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
keeping her nose
But as the girl,
her spirits dampened,
walks disappointedly down the pathway,
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
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
not of her mansion
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,
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.
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.
although so utterly different,
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
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.