The Lioness

Once upon time, there was a lioness who was most skilled at cuisine, and loved to offer herself as a rich banquet she would prepare most carefully for others. It was well known in that land and at that time that the corpse of a lioness was forever the most delicious feast to be had. The lioness was puzzled and distressed, however, because it was difficult to understand the hunger of others, for she did not seem to have the same hunger. Whenever she held a banquet, there would be different kinds of eaters. Some would devour the body completely and suck the bones, filled but not afraid to dream of the next banquet. The blood and sinews of the lion were good for life–one could neither grow lean nor fat on them, no matter how much or how often one ate of them. One only got healthier from such repasts. Others would pick at the food and complain of its herbs, spices and even how the flesh was cut and plated. Some would eat, but loudly complained that her meat did not taste like roasted heifer, camel, gazelle, reindeer, pork, goat, fish or even vegetables, and they wished to eat such things while eating her without tasting or smelling too much of her. Still others would only eat blood, or sinews, or one organ, or just the skin, holding other body parts in contempt. Some wanted a sumptuous, elaborate commentary and ritual performed with the meal–it seemed tasteless without it. Some wanted to devour all of the meal, but seemed confused what to eat first or last; they wanted to consume her all at once, especially the heart and lungs, and would demand more heart and lungs. Sadly, the lioness only had one heart to give and one pair of lungs at a time. While these last eaters would get some nourishment, they found themselves unhappily hungry, wishing the lioness would give them an endless heart to suck on for hours at a time without interruption. On occasions when the lioness attempted to offer a bigger heart, the eaters felt cheated and suspected that the gift was given begrudgingly and still in too small a portion. They would turn to offal and eat it in a most vulgar fashion, or even beg the lioness to eat them, so that they would not have to chase after deer and so that they would never feel this painful hunger again. It is difficult to eat and to be eaten, and beyond the colonnades and arches, there are certain qualities of light and shadow in the hippodrome, the circus and the arena that are unfathomable and impossible to stomach.

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