Bruno Schulz – On Matriarchal Crocodile Street

5 Apr




















“Touya sits hunched up among the yellow bedding and odd rags, her large head covered by a mop of tangled black hair. Her face works like the bellows of an accordion. Every now and then a sorrowful grimace folds it into a thousand vertical pleats, but astonishment soons straightens it out again, ironing out the folds, revealing the chinks of small eyes and damp guns with yellow teeth under snout-like, fleshy lips. Hours pass, filled with heat and boredom; Touya chatters in a monotone, dozes, mumbles softly and coughs. Her immobile frame is covered by a thick cloak of flies. But suddenly the whole heap of dirty rags begins to move, as if stirred by the scratching of a litter of newlyborn rats. The flies wake up in fright and rise in a huge, furiously buzzing cloud, filled with coloured light reflected from the sun. And while the rags slip to the ground and spread out over the rubbish heap, like frightened rats, a form emerges and reveals itself: the dark halfnaked idiot girl rises slowly to her feet and stands like a pagan idol, on short childish legs; her neck swells with anger, and from her face, red with fury, on which the arabesques of bulging veins stand out as in a primitive painting, comes forth a hoarse animal scream, originating deep in the lungs hidden in that half-animal, half-divine breast. The sun-dried thistles shout, the plantains swell and boast their shameless flesh, the weeds salivate with glistening poison, and the half-wit girl, hoarse with shouting, convulsed with madness, presses her fleshy belly in an excess of lust against the trunk of an elder which groans softly under the insistent pressure of that libidinous passion, incited by the whole ghastly chorus to hideous unnatural fertility.”

-Bruno Schulz, from Street of Crocodiles

Translated from the Polish by Celina Wieniewska


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