Cândido Rondon Remembering Teddy Roosevelt

(Several years after the Roosevelt-Rondon Expedition of 1913-1914)

by Scott Edward Anderson

I had my doubts when Roosevelt joined our expedition

exploring my River of Doubt from its headwaters to the Amazon.
I had my own doubts about him, too, despite 

his reputation as rugged and a conservationist.

He seemed frailer than I expected. 
When he got cut on a rock
securing two boats in the rapids, 
it took him down swiftly.

He became feverish and delirious, endlessly repeating 

                 “In Xanadu did Kubla Khan...”
As if his own pleasure-dome was there
on the edge of some sunless sea.

 

Then his son Kermit and our physician told me

Roosevelt still had a bullet lodged in his chest.

He’d been shot while making a speech months back—

spoke for 90 minutes. He never complained.


Our heavy dugout canoes were no match 
for the river’s rapids and rocks. 
We lost time with every lost boat. 
Still we drove on, determined.

He insisted I call him Teodoro
as “Roosevelt” was difficult 
for my Brazilian tongue.
We feared his loss every day. 

 

When we made it to the confluence, 
he asked to be roused and positioned 
so as to see the Amazon with his own eyes,
so there could be no more doubt.

We renamed Rio da Dúvida

after him: “Rio Roosevelt.” 
Although, to me, it will always be

                                             Rio Teodoro.

Scott Edward Anderson is the author of FALLING UP: A Memoir of Second Chances (Homebound, forthcoming Fall 2019), DWELLING: an ecopoem (Shanti Arts, forthcoming 2018), FALLOW FIELD (Aldrich Press, 2013), and WALKS IN NATURE'S EMPIRE (The Countryman Press, 1995). He has been a Concordia Fellow at the Millay Colony for the Arts and received the Nebraska Review Award. You can read more about his work at  and follow him on Twitter @greenskeptic

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August 2019

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