[Amsterdam, a week or so ago]
I followed your note and went to Gramsci's grave today, quietly there amongst the other a-Catholics, the sleepy scarred cats, and that gray pyramid.
Like all good graves, it's smaller than you'd think, and at least partially in shadow.
He's one of the few writers I can imagine having fidelity to. I don't and won't, but the sheer fact of those scattered jailed papers, the gaps and ellipses, the writing up to, through, and past the point of counter-revolution. The coded language and counter-vocabulary that wasn't just cipher. It's the chance for faithfulness because it has to be construction, not a relationship to what's given, but a project of what won't give. (The blind mole, buried beneath the paper pile, tries astrolabes and sextants, cryptography and codiciles, and the mole falls in love with the weight from above.)
His ashes are there too, set in front. (The gravestone is then unnecessary, stuck over a head that didn't rot below but sits nearby, charred into that muddled ash of a whole body in a little stone box.)
A number of objects had been left on it, but only one was a flower, and even that grew from the end of a branch, yanked from a tree, the white underbark sharp at the break point.
30 small rocks.
A pendant of a silver angel with a hollow body.
Two pine cones.
Some coins, but not adding up to much more than .12 Euro. (I like to think the stone bristles beneath this wrong petty gesture, leaving money for Gramsci, and not much at that.)
A tiny note, written in tiny script.
I felt strangely ashamed about the last and didn't read it, as if there might be something deeply private in a letter to a long-dead Communist. Antonio, I dreamt of you again last night. The one where we're on the Sardinian beach. Come back, darling.
Forces are always unequal, and the time is never right. Always. And a war of movement and a war of position never meet, not even themselves, other than here, in the stone-still ashes, in the private apartments of the dead, after the fact.
On my way to the grave, to the Cimitero Accatolico per gli Stranieri al Testaccio, along the bleached brown walls, I walked past a church. I was in horror mood, and it was too, boxy mausoleum shape, lazy collapsing ornament, false windows of grey stone, nothing to look into past water stains. Triangle-topped heavy panel door flanked by columns, and one quarter of it opened slightly, black beyond. It should have been filled with murderous gnomes.
It was full of white petals.
I don't know what the occasion had been, what service or funeral or procession. But in that noon dusk inside, the center aisle up to the altar (beneath a ceiling gridded and marked) was scattered with petals, broken silk bones on the carpet, tossed out haphazard amongst the pews, a shapeless pattern creeping out in silence.