“Writing in Mothertime” by Geri Lipschultz
Ours is not the world of mothertime. We don’t live there but some of us write there. Mothertime was never on the map, nor in a book. Unrecordable, its wave undetectable, its mouth knows when to stay closed. Mothertime exists in those moments that come in a flash and then disappear, never to return. You could stitch these moments together, and it would be a quilt of stars. Mothertime exists in a dimension not governed by a world of knowledge gained from analysis, which stands on an outer rim sending missiles into the interior. Mothertime lives outside of time, as does dream. Mothertime is like the violet flame whose source is somewhere directly inside the earth, its cleft deflecting all things borne of analysis. No explorer may arrive by sailboat or submarine and colonize its inhabitants. It resists invasion. Even from the long-toothed syringe. Writing in mothertime is climbing a mountain whose jewels remain intact. Nowadays, we must close our eyes to find it. Perhaps it was located inside the placenta, but it’s not there anymore. Or, it is undetectable. Maybe it resists all tools carved to measure, to locate, to evaluate, to—in effect—know it. Maybe it was once located in an apple. All I know is that when I write, it’s where I go. Maybe the words take the shape of a tremor or follow the flight patterns of some butterflies I’ve known, some hawks, my cats, an ant, a fly, or the gusting pattern of seeds from one dandelion or milkweed plant to their rooting places.
Motherhood as pond, as sinkhole, as swamp, as quicksand. A state of being you never fully escape. Tainted you are by motherhood, just as you are tainted by writing. You are guilty as charged, with a belly and wounds, with pain to come, with reminders immortal—hydra-like, and if, god forbid, your manuscript never turns up on the shelves of a library, your reminders are still there, in a dark light, in the dungeon of grief, the key held by memory, with a dark prayer that someone will burn every scrap of every journal you ever wrote. Writing and motherhood are both messy work, both of them taking place in a parallel dimension, the way music is other, the way great loss is other, the way you are tainted when you mourn, when you have slept with someone for the first time, or when you have committed adultery, when you have injured someone and have witnessed the injury, have witnessed the healing, have witnessed the scar. Both writing and motherhood have you take a walk through the house of death, because while you don’t remember your own birth, you witness the birth of your child, and knowing birth, you know death. Unspoken suffering they have in common.
My body in motherhood walked me into the pond, and now and forever, that pond will always be in me.
Motherhood opened my third eye by way of the hips.
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Geri Lipschultz Artist Statement:
I have an MFA in fiction from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, as well as Ph.D. from
Ohio University. My work has appeared in International Journal of Transpersonal
Studies, The Manifest-‐Station, The Toast, New York Times, College English, Kalliope,
Black Warrior Review, among others. I have both a story and a poem included in
Pearson’s most current edition of their college anthology, and a story of mine is
included in Spuyten Duyvil’s The Wreckage of Reason II. I was awarded a Creative
Artists in Public Service (CAPS) grant from New York State, and a story of mine won
the fiction 2012 award from So to Speak. My one-‐woman show was produced in NYC
by Woodie King, Jr.