The piece was based on a book by Bruno Schulz titled Street of Crocodiles. The imaginary Street of Crocodiles in the Polish city of Drogobych is a street of memories and dreams. The collections of short stories focus on memories of his unusual childhood growing up with an eccentric father who collected rare birds’ eggs to hatch in his attic, owned a tailor shop and believed that all tailors’ dummies should be treated like people. The book is beautifully written with some of the most visual, poetic passages. I’ll include a few that inspired my piece.
“And he calmed down only when, in the morning with the ebb of night, the wallpaper wilted, shed its leaves and petals and thinned down autumnally, letting in the distant dawn.” (pg 39)
“‘In one word,’ Father concluded, ‘we wish to create man a second time – in the shape and semblance of a tailor’s dummy.’” (pg 62)
“It was one of those clear nights when the starry firmament is so wide and spreads so far that it seems to be divided and broken up into a mass of separate skies, sufficient for a whole month of winter nights and providing silver and painted globes to cover all the nightly phenomena, adventures, occurrences, and carnivals.” (pg 87)
“One’s imagination, bewitched and misled, creates illusory maps of the apparently familiar districts, maps in which the streets have their proper places and usual names but are provided with new and fictitious configurations by the inexhaustible inventiveness of the night.” (pg 88)
“We suspected that among them were the exhibits from the school cabinets which, although degutted and molting, felt on that white night in their empty bowels the voice of the eternal instinct, the mating urge, and returned to the thickets for short moments of illusory life.” (pg 93)
“My father kept in the lower drawer of his large desk an old and beautiful map of our city. It was a whole folio sheaf of parchment pages which, originally fastened with strips of linen, formed an enormous wall map, a bird’s-eye panorama.” (pg 99)
“We shall always regret that, at a given moment,we had left the slightly dubious tailor’s shop. We shall never be able to find it again. We shall wander from shop sign to shop sign and make a thousand mistakes. We shall enter scores of shops, see many which are similar. We shall wander along shelves upon shelves of books, look through magazines and prints, confer intimately and at length with young women of imperfect beauty, with an excessive pigmentation who yet would not be able to understand our requirements.” pg 109-110)