I spent most of an on and off day
thinking (on and off) about Erik Satie
and the particular weather of the Gnossiennes
which I wrote about (this weather)
in an offhand and immediate manner.
Later in the evening James Gadolfini died
or more accurately it was brought to my attention
that he had previously but recently passed,
apparently of a heart attack in Italy,
which in that moment seemed about right.
His death provokes circular thinking;
I do not think of him as Gandolfini
few do, we mostly consider him as Tony Soprano,
and we will continue to call him to mind,
to remember him as a character he played.
He did not write his own lines or buy his clothes,
direct his own actions or light the shadows of his face,
but he died as a man and will be remembered,
but as another which is what he may have dreamed of,
but not what he would have wanted.
I am not even certain I have his name spelled correctly,
but Soprano, so cleverly called, I have right,
and the fact that he died overweight in the birthplace
of all things Mafiosi rather than, well, wherever
it was he was as a baby born, pleased me.
Not in happiness but elegance, oh, of course,
in Italy. Of course. But then came the stab
of guilt in the neck of my own quick crop
for feeling that an episode had been completed
when instead a man’s life had truly ended.
A man who said “I am an actor. I go to work.
I do my job. Why are you asking me questions?
Do you ask a truck driver what he did all day?”
I read this flat on the page and imagine menace
unable, again, to hear the real voice, not knowing it.
And then I listened to the Gnossienne again, again
in all its pale beauty and realized that the Dada
of Satie’s time was not an invention of its day
but only a description of something that had been
and was and always, James, always will be.