Peninsula Poetry: Phil Hansotia

Phil Hansotia moved to Door County 16 years ago, after retiring from a distinguished career at the Marshfield Clinic. A member of the Wallace Poetry Group, he has been an active member of the poets’ community in Door County and Wisconsin. Caravaggio Press published his book, Looking for America: Poems of Memory and Discovery, in 2012. He said, “Life in gentle Door County provides a feast of artistic, progressive and creative talent. I have supped at its table.

Looking for America

I finished medical school in India
and came to America—
a gosling taking flight 50 years ago,
to a tightly-knit hospital community,
a retired couple and a grocer’s family,
who taught me America’s values and traditions.
Wisconsin is middle-America.
Its cities, dairy farms, and orchards,
share a special character captured by
its cold beer and delicious cheese.

Overseas visitors often wish to tour
The Statue of Liberty, New York city,
The Grand Canyon and Mount Rushmore. 
But that is not where America is.
Her roots lie in hope and opportunity
for the dispossessed with ambition.
Caged birds that are free to fly
in a land where isolation and
scarcity co-exist with freedom.

America is a society that has committed
all the wrongs seen elsewhere—
but seeks to correct them—and eventually does.
Her energy, enterprise, ability to absorb
all cultures, ethnic groups and religions
with resulting tension that derives from
the new always jostling the old.
That’s what America is.

At its best it lifts its vision to the stars.
It’s a place where the ordinary person
Is the object of planning and policy.
A nation of immigrants, each generation
Has to relearn the meaning of being American

America has always been a work in progress—
an imperfect entity busy correcting itself.
Taken as a whole it does quite well.
That’s why we’re all here.
That’s the America I’ve found.
That’s my America.

Peninsula Poetry is a monthly column curated by the Door County Poets Collective, a 12-member working group that was formed to publish Soundings: Door County in Poetry (Caravaggio Press, 2015) and continues to meet.