"I want a lion tattoo, here, on my shoulder," a man said to the tattoo-artist. "Make it a big one!"
"Gladly!" replied the artist.
But when the man felt the needle's sting, he shouted, "That hurts! What are you doing?"
"The lion's tail," said the artist.
"Well, leave out the tail."
The artist resumed his work, and the man screamed again. "What's that?"
"Leave them out."
And so it went on: no tail, no legs, no belly, no mane.
"You're not ready for a lion," the artist scoffed, and he drove the man from his shop.
Inspired by: The English prose version of Rumi in Tales from the Masnavi by A. J. Arberry, 10.
Notes: Rumi tells this story about a man of Qazvin in Iran.
This story provides the illustration for the cover of Coleman Barks' lovely book, Feeling the Shoulder of the Lion.