Mermaids(From my notebook, earlier this morning.) Another gray, humid day in New York, promising rain. I awoke early, about 5:30, and sank into despair. Much better to sink into the cool sea, searching for a school of mermaids. There are pretty slender fish that may be mermaids in disguise, with gold and bright bue markings on their faces and bodies, and swarms of wider, flatter-bodied beasts with thin vertical stripes of gold against a brownish gray who might be ladies in waiting if the mermaids do appear. A larger, fatter fish-shaped glutton painted like a zebra explores the rough-edged underwater caves. Medusas expand and compress their purplish-pink ballet skirts to rise or fall in the water, hovering always close to the surface, their long long legs dangling lazily beneath them. And in the sandy bottom, where there are patches bare of thickets of thick green weeds or of reefs or of water-sculpted rocks, little sand-colored creatures scratch at the sand with whisker tentacles around their mouths. But there are no mermaids in sight. Not even an octopus lurking in the jagged channels of the rock.
But it is now a week since we left Spain and the waters on its coast, and while there are many wondrous things here in Manhattan, I don't expect a school of mermaids or balletic jellyfish. And yet, last night, we saw a motion-poem just as magical, mermaid-like in its seductive, womanly grace.
"Rumi's Math" is one of 220 theatrical works to be presented this month in the Fringe festival at theaters around town. Created by a young Turkish woman director and playwright, Handan Özbilgin, it translates the love-search of Mevlana Jelaluddin Rumi of Konya (Turkey) in the 13th century to a video and dance on the subways and river-edges of 21st century New York. One woman searches for the other who will complete her, her unknown Friend, while this other woman is also searching though she doesn't know it. Eight women, with a few men glimpsed briefly in the videos -- their appearance serving mostly to remind us o the femaleness of the eight, the two seekers and the spirits who conspire to guide them.
I think Rumi would have been pleased. Rumi's math formula: one plus one equals One. Lovely, loverly, the mathematics of love.