Flash in the Pan


A Quarterly Posting at Tiny Lights

Time Is A Tiger


by Joan Zerrien

High on a clerestory windowsill in my living room sits a bronze sculpture of a horned cow with a tiger attacking her backside. Her belly is hollowed out, and in that space between her front and rear legs stands a horned calf, steadfastly protected from the tiger. It was gifted to me Kunming, China, where officials explained that the enormous original is a symbol the city's courage.

From the moment I saw it, the sculpture illustrated the essence of motherhood to me. Tiger on your back, you hold firm protecting your young. The tiger could be financial or health troubles, it could be a failing marriage, it could be the simple and constant vigilance that motherhood entails. It's easier to do when children are small. Just now, my daughters are teenagers, and I am weary. Just now, there is a very particular tiger on my tail, the tiger of time.

I have no regrets about adopting my daughters from China, even though it led to the end of a frail marriage and that life of ease. I have been immeasurably enriched by motherhood, and in growing them up I, too, have grown up. My standing over them as protector and guide is the best thing I have done in this lifetime, the one thing I have done to make a difference for someone, and I am grateful for it.

My regret is that I allowed my immersion in marriage (and subsequently motherhood) to cloak a lack of courage to take myself seriously as a writer. I did not shelter my gift as I have sheltered my children.

Only now, arriving at the incomprehensible age of 62 with teenagers shifting restlessly beneath me, do I recognize how much time I have lost, and how swiftly it now flows.

As mother and writer, I feel the tiger of time right on my ass, eating up my life. There are moments when I long to be free to devote myself wholeheartedly and singlemindedly to my neglected path, but that time has not yet come. I will be nearly 70 before it does.

I look at the blind eye of the bronze cow, and imagine her sorrow.

I look at the blind eye of the bronze cow, and she looks steadily forward. Forward takes courage, as every mother knows.


Joan Zerrien lives with her daughters in the San Jacinto Mountains of Southern California. She realizes that if she keeps writing from now on, she’ll probably get it all down in time.

Twenty-fourth Flash


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The Balloon by Lynn Sunday


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