My Life in Stillness: White As Day

This poem may or may not have been written by Philip K. Dick. It is reprinted as it originally appeared in the following publication.

Excerpt from: LAST WAVE “The Last Best Hope of Speculative Fiction”

Volume One Number One (October 1983) $2.50

With works by Avram Davidson, Thomas Disch, John Sladek, Philip K. Dick and others.

The introduction by Kirsten Nelson explains that this poem was written for her and included in a letter (no date given). Nelson quotes the following from Phil’s letter: “And now, dear Kirsten, here’s a poem I wrote for you, the only one I ever wrote in my adult life. (I used to write them when I was a child, but no more. Because, except for you, I never feel the way I once did, the way I used to.)” The poem appears on pages 26 and 27.

MY LIFE IN STILLNESS: WHITE AS DAY

by Philip K. Dick

She wandered in a different land.

They hurt her. Huntsmen are cold;

Nothing in them grows,

At last she saw a face, not unfamiliar

But more kind,

And regular, as if a childhood won from avid men

That tracked her,

Passed to leave a wake:

A prison where a leaf had been.

She, still that leaf, but gray and definitely straight —

Able to run with care,

Came down from Paris; there her sickness

Bent into rods her courage; and she fell

The heat of loss, bought at a cost

Which we must pay, begins at last to wane and burst.

The nicked, gnawed, final weariness shapes finally into bone

In Paris (people laughed there; one knows that) she

Suffered pain (one hears that, too) that ratifies our own.

Discouraged, lost again, she took as once before

The dismal probe of gracious Swedish steel.

Who pokes that bastard talon into her? And what,

In that delightful, fragile edifice

Fell down,

Fell down for good?

The good who die in patience

Know that here on earth the favors, great and plain,

Lie within the hand of evil things: these died. Not she.

She never can; she never will. For us, and for herself.

One, two, some say even three:

Too many times eroded, scoured of joy

This woman crept, until no order pacified her calm;

Like blossoms striking back

She kicked the door. Life taken from her

Cannot drop unless she stumbles with it, lets it.

And even now, lying with heaviness and pain,

Knowing nothing of a Mighty Father,

Hearing nothing said to lift her eyes — she shows us;

This we get. But can we offer back

The stolen, broken lives? The lives that dreamed

Inside? Fragments now, and still she dreams;

She dreams them on.

The landscape stiffens. This might be death.

But further in, a new, whiter heart

Which no one sees, a dear unkilled portion overlooked

Harps on. She will not die. Not ever.

We knew her once.

And, kissing her, have scraped the wall that hides us,

Each from all the rest.

Rest! For Kirsten?

They took that too. The rest, the quiet:

Nothing lit shows out — except, as we fly past,

A mischief sporting, sparkling in the turned-down

Hurting smile. It waits — as all of us must wait —

Until the huntsmen come again

And this time strike what still remains.

And we? We are their ugly heirs.

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