Broad brims shield their indoor faces
from summer sun and from my eyes,
but I know these women
or women like them.

Past young but still nowhere near old,
they congregate in like-minded groups
to walk the weight off after lunch.

Arrayed in summer-flower colors,
water bottles at the ready, they’re two abreast,
a group of six in ritual procession
down the sidewalk.

They cut a wide swath through the crowd,
brims wielding a circular sort of clout –
not the gentle sway of garden party straw
but the firm authority of early cardinals’
wide-brimmed red hats.

At a busy corner, one pauses to assess
the traffic, raises her hand in a gesture
of seeming benediction,
then dips her head, her hat’s flat disk
angled sharp against the sun.

I picture the six of them spinning away –
plates on a celestial juggler’s sticks,
their conversation spiraling
in prayer.