O Plymouth: A Proem

Come to Plymouth: A Prayer

Or: How Plymouth Michigan Got Its Name

The first settlers had a meeting on February 26, 1827
the downtown was officially called Podunk.
Podunk signifying a mythical American town
from Indians who settled near the Podunk river, Con-nec-ti-cut
thus small American town
found first in the Buffalo Daily National Pilot newspaper
Letters from Podunk, beginning January 5, 1846 —

The north end of Plymouth town MIchigan was called Joppa
no doubt a Biblical reference to the port near present day Tel Aviv
somebody suggested Peking as a name for the town
[their first choice was LeRoy
but that name was taken already] —

we live in a great country.

Several of the early settlers came from Plymouth Mass
so they called it Plymouth,

I grew up near Plymouth Michigan and felt
privileged —
the proximity of the site of the Pilgrims’ landing.
I looked up the story of Plymouth
In my en-cy-clo-pe-dia.

My Daddy worked in the next town.

And I must have missed the lesson
not recognizing
Mass-a-chu-setts at all in the story imagined
the Pilgrims landing in Michigan
and the first Thanksgiving
when the Pilgrims and others
brought down Sukkot as their guide
from this —
my book, too:

When you have come into the land which your God is giving you as a heritage,
and have occupied it and settled in it
you shall take some first fruits of the ground which you harvest
from the land which God gives you put them in a basket,
go to the place which God chooses for the dwelling place of the name.
There you shall go to the priest in office at that time and say to him,
Today I acknowledge to God, that I have indeed
come into the land sworn to our fathers,
given to us.

[Deuteronomy 26: 1 – 3]

See the Pilgrims
in their gratitude:
they landed December 11, 1620
the first winter was devastating
46 of the original 102 who sailed on the Mayflower

Where are they buried —
among the wood framed houses
of Plymouth, Michigan,

No thanksgiving that first winter
if there had been a way back
a good number of them might have taken it —

Then – year two — they had bountiful harvest
the first successful harvest celebrated with a meal

The survivors celebrated with a feast
the Wampanoag and the Pilgrims ate together —
see them at the IHOP in Plymouth, Michigan,
the Pilgrims invited 91 Indians who had helped the Pilgrims survive
after the shock of the first winter.

I looked out the window
and waved as my Daddy went to
day after day
near Plymouth, Michigan,
the holy site of first fruits —

Grateful grateful
for the bounty of this place
where my Daddy worked the dream,

Here –
this is for you,
he used to say,

O Michigan
O Plymouth
O America —
thank you for that first fruited

And all