Squirrel Hill

Workshop !--
“Poetry makes nothing happen: it survives/ In the valley of its saying.”
       — W. H. Auden
Eyes of the author.

Lawrence Wray

PHOTO: Lawrence Wray

Lawrence Wray’s poems have been published in journals such as Crab Orchard Review, Presence, Poetry Salzburg Review, Indiana Review, Innisfree Poetry Journal, The Dark Horse, and local journals Coal Hill Review and Pittsburgh Poetry Review. His poem "Behind Closed Eyes" was recorded by poet Gray Jacobik for a project called In This Together at The Arts Cafe Mystic, and his poem “Near the Moment of Passing, Clocks” was selected for the anthology Verse Envisioned. Lawrence has degrees in Comparative Literature from Binghamton University and English Literature from Duquesne University. Following his studies, he worked for a local peace and justice organization, The Thomas Merton Center. He grew up in Arizona and now lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where he is an active volunteer for the community food bank. Lawrence’s first collection of poems is The Wavering Fledge of Light (Wipf & Stock 2023).

Behind Closed Eyes

The things that save us are ordinary.
The sun rose out of trees two houses over.
Out of the school, the honey-stone church
on the corner, the slate roofs at the edge
of the neighborhood, it came as it always has
just here, whatever occupied this place.
I closed my eyes gently and the sun’s flush
on my lids saved me. It rose from infinite
horizons. As many as cobblestones
in the alley? All that ever sleeked with ice,
whitened with snowfall, that bulged
and troughed as the ground beneath them
rippled and shuttled like days and years
on toward another resting place. As many
as the warbles and sighs in budding trees.
As pear trees shimmer with blossoms,

shedding fragrant paths to follow, each
syllable of bright confetti to the end
of their flourishing and back. The things
that save us are ordinary. On countless faces,
thousands after thousands, the sun rises.
Whatever happens next in this strange,
needful time, we have a place, uncertain
though it may be and has always been,
a place in the ordinary midst of things—
the small, arriving expectations to wake
and to find what we had left, every
last one, and all of us imbued by our time—
the man in pajamas on his back porch
again this morning, the first dogs barking,
and no one sitting in the lit-up windows of
the bus as it rolls past stops down the hill.

Bradema Trail

for Maeve Alisz

Climbing across the hillside
on a narrow path, ours for now,
just a step ahead of me
you stopped and pointed.
Before I could tell what you’d noticed
it was gone—the living fuse.
Where fitted steppingstones
bridged us over the muddy pitch

a Carolina wren had flashed by,
only its calling for tea withheld.
Traveling the slope-balanced,
back-folding trails you know so well,
I wondered if you’d paint that color,
the wren’s surge and blending
into a thicket, as you had,
years before, a sparrow for me.