On an evening stroll along Amsterdam’s canals, he
finds himself in de Wallen, the center of the city’s
prostitution, well known for many centuries before.
He finds her behind a window outlined in red. She
is about twenty with a demeanor of expectation, an
attractive girl with piercing looks for sizing up the
potential wealth of men passing by. She always uses
the time-worn rule: the better dressed the wandering
man, the more he will be willing to pay.
On entering an inviting unlocked door, he finds
himself in an oft-used bed chamber, a sheet-
covered bed in a far corner, wash basin with toilet
at another. The approaching young woman asks how
many guilders he will be willing to pay. He responds
up to five, a lot in those days. A deal has been made.
As she retires behind a curtain to remove her clothing,
he states that he is not lusting for sexual adventure. He
tells her that he is an artist, a skilled portrait painter.
Reaching into the case that he carries, he removes a small
jacket trimmed with gold braid, a blue headband, a white
turban with scarf to hang from the back of her head, red
ointment for her lips, and last of all, a pearl earring to grace
her left ear. He asks her to turn her head to the left and then
to affect an inviting gaze and faint smile.
Charles H. Halsted
I am a retired academic physician. My poetry education consists of twelve online courses provided by Stanford Continuing Studies and various poetry workshops in California, Oregon, and New Mexico. Currently, I have published more than eighty poems in thirty three poetry journals, in one chapbook, Breaking Eighty, and in one full book, Extenuating Circumstances. A second full book, On Razor-Thin Tires, is in press for publication in December. Potentially of interest, I am the grandson of Charles Hopkinson, who was a noted landscape artist and portrait painter of the last century.
The Ekphrastic Review
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