A personal connection to “the tropics in new york”

Harlem shadows is a collection of poems that hold such deep meanings. “The tropics in New York” captures that homesick feeling in such a few words. This poem spoke to me most because it reminded me of the people in my life. Both sets of my grandparents migrated to the US, specifically to New York, and started their new lives. Yet everyday growing up and being surrounded by them there was never a time when I wasn’t hearing them say that they didnt miss home. My grandmother from Puerto Rico has had plants on her fire escape, balcony, front porch and even inside her house since I can remember. It’s a part of her that goes anywhere she does. It reminds her of the peace and beauty of nature even if she’s in an apartment in Brooklyn. Just like the poem says “set in the window, bringing memories’’ and ‘’hungry for the old familiar ways”. For some people it’s the ambience, or the food, or the way people dressed that they miss from home. In my grandmother’s case, it’s her plants because she would feel so incredibly homesick and incomplete without them. “The tropics in New York” shows how homesickness can be extremely crucial to someone.

2 thoughts on “A personal connection to “the tropics in new york”

  1. I can totally relate to your experience. My grandma and mother, and most of my family, haven’t been back to PR in at least two decades. They stopped talking about Puerto Rico and home and all of their memories after my grandfather died two decades ago as well. Yet, somehow their nostalgia creeps through in all of the plants in the window, doing everything on the balcony for fresh air, playing dominoes, and making Cuban bread sandwiches. Sometimes there is so many unspoken words that come out through our behaviors and actions, especially the feelings McKay portrays in “The Tropics in New York”.

    1. This poem really resonates with me in that, being that I am an immigrant myself from Jamaica I get all those nostalgic feelings and being homesick when I first came to America just McKay did. The fact that Jamaica is a tropical island I did and still miss all the nice fruits that we have home and being here we do not have those. However, I do enjoy that I was able to spread by living in this beautiful country where I can provide myself and my families with a much better life and yet still be able to visit home yearly.

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