On the Board
Regentesses of the Amsterdam Orphanage,
by Adriaen Becker, 1683
It was an honor to be asked to serve
the city thus, to dress in finery
and sit with other matrons. If the verve
of such a portrait should be dignity,
the painter has done well, since now like then
distinction holds its own. Gowns are jet-black,
long, even layered, gauze or lace slipped in-
to proper places, often clasped. Slack
around the wrist or neck lie strands of pearls,
while specimens depend from every ear
surrounded by an ample set of curls.
Rings circle fingers of each volunteer
as staff hold cloaks or usher children through,
the latter’s tattered clothing well in view.
If you have any thoughts on this poem, Jane Blanchard would be
pleased to hear them.