Three greasy brother crows wheel, beak to heel, cutting a circle into the bruised and troubled sky, making fast, dark rings through the thicksome bloats of smoke.
For so long the lid of the valley was clear and blue but now, by God, it ROARS. From where ah lie the clouds look prehistorical, belching forth great faceless beasts that curl ‘n’ die, like that, above.
And the crows – they still wing, still wheel, only closer now – closer now – closer now to me.
These sly corbies are birds of death. They’ve shadowed me all mah life. It’s only now that ah can reel them in. With mah eyes.
Ah think ah could almost remember how to sleep on this soft, warm circle of mud, for mah rhythms differ. They do.
Sucked by the gums of this toothless grave, ah go – into this fen, this pit, though ah fear to get mah kill-hand wet. In truth and as ah speak, the two crows have staked out mah eyes – like a couple of bad pennies they wheel and wait, while the rolling smoke curls and dies above, and ah see that it turns darker now and ah am but one full quarter gone – unner – or nearly and gaining.

This is the introduction to Nick Cave’s And The Ass Saw The Angel. I was baby-sitting my friend Jim’s youngest, Felix, the other day and I read it to him. He listened in (rapt) silence and then started to cry. But when he’d had a bit to recover he seemed willing to have another go at it:

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