"Bowland Beth": a poem by David Harsent

That she made shapes in air

That she saw the world as pattern and light
moorland to bare mountain drawn by instinct

That she’d arrive at the corner of your eye
like the ghost of herself going silent into the wind

That the music of her slipstream was a dark flow
whisper-drone tagged to wingtips

That weather was a kind of rapture

That her only dream was of flight forgotten
moment by moment as she dreamed it

That her low drift over heather quartering home ground
might bring anyone to tears

That she would open her prey in all innocence
there being nothing of anger or sorrow in it

That her beauty was prefigured

That her skydance went for nothing
hanging fire on empty air

That her name is meaningless
your mouth empty of it mind empty of it

That the gunshot was another sound amid birdcall
a judder if you had seen it her line of flight broken

That she went miles before she bled out

This article first appeared in the 12 August 2013 issue of the New Statesman, What if JFK had lived?

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Cabinet audit: what does the appointment of Karen Bradley as Culture Secretary mean for policy?

The political and policy-based implications of the new Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport.

The most politically charged of the culture minister's responsibilities is overseeing the BBC, and to anyone who works for - or simply loves - the national broadcaster, Karen Bradley has one big point in her favour. She is not John Whittingdale. Her predecessor as culture secretary was notorious for his belief that the BBC was a wasteful, over-mighty organisation which needed to be curbed. And he would have had ample opportunity to do this: the BBC's Charter is due for renewal next year, and the licence fee is only fixed until 2017. 

In her previous job at the Home Office, Karen Bradley gained a reputation as a calm, low-key minister. It now seems likely that the charter renewal will be accomplished with fewer frothing editorials about "BBC bias" and more attention to the challenges facing the organisation as viewing patterns fragment and increasing numbers of viewers move online.

Of the rest of the job, the tourism part just got easier: with the pound so weak, it will be easier to attract visitors to Britain from abroad. And as for press regulation, there is no word strong enough to describe how long the grass is into which it has been kicked.

Helen Lewis is deputy editor of the New Statesman. She has presented BBC Radio 4’s Week in Westminster and is a regular panellist on BBC1’s Sunday Politics.