The Orange Room Review

Accessible poetry of substance

Listening to Jazz on the Shore of Lake Michigan

by Leah Browning

All you will remember later is the museum,
like none you have ever seen, the building not stone
or brick but another species altogether: a magnificent
white bird poised to take flight.  You cross the bridge
and enter an elevator, a solid glass affair too
futuristic to bother with signs, no letters or numbers
to guide you.  As you travel down, looking out
from every side, you wonder if the Spanish architect
is capable of seeing nuance in a human form,
if he would look at a woman and note the color of her cheek,
the arc of her leg from the knee to the strap of her shoe,
or if he looks at a woman and sees only the skeleton’s artful pose.
You buy the children cones of chocolate ice cream
and sit on the grass, listening to a jazz quartet
poised on a balcony to the side of Calatrava’s structure,
seagulls flying about its head, a cool breeze
blowing off Lake Michigan.  When you remember it
later, it will be easy to forget that in real life,
the edges are always frayed.  Your memory holds on to
the outline of the day, with its perfect weather and music,
leaving behind a trail of details fine as feathers—
the woman in red sweatpants, blocking the view,
and your son, with a lap full of ice cream.

Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava designed the Quadracci Pavilion—including the Burke Brise Soleil, a sunscreen that can be raised or lowered—for the Milwaukee Art Museum in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

LEAH BROWNING is the author of three nonfiction books for teens and pre-teens. Her fiction, poetry, essays, and articles have appeared in publications including Queen's Quarterly, 42opus, and Salome Magazine. In addition to writing, she serves as editor of the Apple Valley Review. Her website is located at