Rebecca Foust

Reading Heidegger Brings a Wild Joy
March 24, 2023 Foust Rebecca

Reading Heidegger Brings a Wild Joy


for Mark Richtman 1956-2019


My discovery of your essential thingness
means you are no more dead for me now
than while you were alive. Once we
have ever existed, that is a thing, as the stone
on the road and the clod in the field are things,
as the chalk is a thing, and the airplane
and internet and art and even God are things.
The kayak with the life vest still D-clipped-on
is a thing, and the paddle 20 yards
down shore, and your poor body washed up
near the pier in Nick’s Cove. The thingness
of the thing is eternal, and the way physical bodies
alchemize from and into atoms cannot alter that.
When the chalk is crushed into powder,
its chalk-ness persists, and the border of each
smaller piece is only an exterior of some interior
lying further back. Things are more
than what can be touched, reached or seen.
But, that’s not precisely what brings comfort.
What brings comfort is this: you were, thus are,
and always will have been. Time’s friction
cannot erase that bedrock, nor can it erase
the races run, the woman you loved, the children
you fathered. These things happened.
The sun seen by a shepherd is not the same sun
seen by the astrophysicist, but for both,
a red orb sets but is not actually gone. What is
merely past does not exhaust what has been.
This still has being. When no one is left to remember
you—and we—will still be a thing. One day,
our turn to be lost in fog and wind, our turn to rest
in blind troughs of waves, blood cooling, breath
released at last from its terrible imperative.
When the world is of us utterly bereft, this will be left:
we are, because we were. Mark, you were here.

Rebecca Foust’s seventh book ONLY (Four Way Books 2022) earned a Publisher’s Weekly starred review. Recognitions: runner-up, 2022 Missouri Review Editors Prize; winner. Pablo Neruda, CP Cavafy, and James Hearst poetry prizes; Marin Poet Laureateship; Hedgebrook, MacDowell, and Sewanee fellowships. New poems in The Common, Narrative, Ploughshares, and POETRY.


Photo credit: William Harvey