Coronavirus poem 12: Social distances

During the first days of the Corona pandemic
I often sat in a chair near the road, smoking cigarettes,
half a mile south of a group home that had become
infested with the virus. Three, maybe five times
a week, the shiny blue ambulance that serves
those who live north of the lift-bridge hustled by, siren
wailing, red, white-and-amber lights awhirl, and turned
into the group home parking lot. It became the habit
of an elderly man from the rental cottages across the way
to stand on his side of the road, in a dark overcoat
and surgical mask, hand over his heart, waving
a small flag as the amulance raced back toward the bridge
and the ventilators that chuffed beyond.
One terrible day, after the ambulance made the last
of three deadly runs (it’s said that only two of ten
who went on the vents survived), I called over to him,
after he’d stepped all the way to the pavement
to watch the ambulance make the final curve and the ramp
that led to the south shore. He hesitated, then walked
back to his cottage. I haven’t seen him out since,
though from time-to-time I see what may be a hand waving
slowly, or a half-smile in the tiny window
cut in his cottage door.