Doughboy by Julia Nunnally Duncan
In my great-uncle Charlie’s portrait,
he wears his doughboy uniform,
and I see the pride he felt then.
He couldn’t yet know
that the muddy trenches of France,
stained with the blood of infantrymen,
would be so unlike his peaceful valley
in East Tennessee;
and he couldn’t foretell
that the scars he would carry inside
from that distant place
would haunt him till the day he died.
In the portrait of my great-uncle Charlie,
made before he went to war,
his face is eager and his mind unmarred,
his heart set on being part of something grand
and darker than he could imagine.
Julia Nunnally Duncan has published ten books of poetry and prose, her most recent poetry collection, A Neighborhood Changes, released in 2018 by Finishing Line Press. Her essays and poems have appeared recently in Smoky Mountain Living, Blue Ridge Country, and Germ Magazine. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Warren Wilson College. Julia lives in Marion, North Carolina, and teaches part-time at McDowell Technical Community College. She is currently working on a new book of essays, her debut essay collection A Place That Was Home having been released by eLectio Publishing in 2016.