When the Tejo, a Portuguese destroyer,
visited New Bedford, I was there. I know
I was, and I know it was 1939 because I
looked it up in the Diario de Noticias;
besides I have a postcard showing off the ship
and indicating the date. Apart from the surety
that I was there on at least one of the two days
the Tejo was on display, all I remember is that
I remember nothing, except that I wasn’t awed
by the boat. The Diario talks of notables and
speeches, preceded by parades of bands, each
one representing a colonial enclave, in step,
state after state. In the Diario I read that the
Rhode Island contingent is led by Pawtucket’s
Banda Social Portuguesa, and fronting for the
band is my mother’s brother-Antonio Temudo.
I see him, gussied up in burgundy, yellow, blue,
gray-an outfit he designed himself-basking in
solemnity, tension, pageantry, embracing it all,
breathing it all in. Is this peacock unassailable?
Does not the braid riding above the visor of his
ceremonious hat tell you all you need to know?
Ah, Tio Temudo, confident, brazen, big enough,
again center stage, a challenge to the Tejo itself.
Jan. 6, 2013
George Monteiro is Professor Emeritus of English and Portuguese and Brazilian Studies, Brown University, and he continues as Adjunct Professor of Portuguese Studies at the same university. He served as Fulbright lecturer in American Literature in Brazil–Sao Paulo and Bahia–Ecuador and Argentina; and as Visiting Professor in UFMG in Belo Horizonte. In 2007 he served as Helio and Amelia Pedroso / Luso-American Foundation Professor of Portuguese, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. Among his recent books are Stephen Crane’s Blue Badge of Courage, Fernando Pessoa and Nineteenth-Century Anglo-American Literature, The Presence of Pessoa, The Presence of Camões, and Conversations with Elizabeth Bishop and Critical Essays on Ernest Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms. Among his translations are Iberian Poems by Miguel Torga, A Man Smiles at Death with Half a Face by José Rodrigues Miguéis, Self-Analysis and Thirty Other Poems by Fernando Pessoa, and In Crete, with the Minotaur, and Other Poems by Jorge de Sena. He has also published two collections of poems, The Coffee Exchange and Double Weaver’s Knot.