Old People on the Nursing Home Porch

Strand, Mark

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Annotated by:
Coulehan, Jack
  • Date of entry: Jul-11-1994
  • Last revised: Sep-05-2006


The old sit "on the porch in rockers / Letting the faded light / Of afternoon carry them off." The narrator visualizes them mulling over the past as they rock back and forth. Although the old people cover "ground / They did not know was there," they learn nothing new in this. They receive no redemptive message, not even "a reason / To make it seem worthwhile." In fact, evening comes and soon it will be time for them to go to their solitary beds and fall into the "sheepless / Pastures of a long sleep."


In this clearly-written poem, Strand creates a single, sustained image: a porch of elderly persons rocking quietly in the face of meaninglessness. There is no redemption, there is no escape but death. Perhaps, however, it is their isolation in the nursing home that robs them (and their stories) of meaning. What if they were rocking instead on the porches of their own homes, or the homes of their children?

Primary Source

Selected Poems



Place Published

New York