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Bampton is a village in Oxfordshire, in the heart of England. It was once in the borderland of Wessex and Mercia, ancient Saxon realms. I have a close family association with the area, and visited it many times as a child. It is very near R.A.F. Brize Norton, which played an important role in Britain's military campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Bampton

Screen_shot_2017-12-05_at_08.50.24by Patrick Howse16 Apr 2016

All my boyhood summers
soaked into church walls
primed by a thousand winters.
Comfortable fields surround,

welcoming as woollen blankets
laid over the cold memory
of Saxon borders thrust aside
by disputed allegiances.

Engines and rotor blades
chop a sudden brutal loudness,
as the craft of modern war
round the spire;

hawks and jackdaws drown
in the blue-white sky
and my hand lingers
on walls built to protect,

on walls built to contain.
Particles of sand crumble
into my palm and fall
on soil deeper than England.