Write Now: Hillary Ferguson – The Ninth

Hillary Ferguson is a New York City-based poet and writer. She is currently an MFA candidate in poetry and fiction at The New School and a co-founder of the journal Politics and Poems. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Huffington Post, BuzzFeed, Lamprophonic, Public Pool, the Roanoke Review, Open Thought Vortex, and elsewhere. She can be found on twitter @Hillary_Ferg.

The Ninth


the day after the election

I sat on the train across the aisle

from a black woman and a white man

and I hated him didn’t even know him

but the woman and I looked at one another

for ten seconds which is nine seconds too long

to stare at someone on the subway we were both crying

all of us really were crying all of us except the white men

and the woman sighed and pointed at my bag I had

a Hillary sticker still sticking and I nodded

she understood that I understood we both felt the same

way we all did the City was quiet heads were down

and I got off at Fulton St to teach a writing class comprised

mostly of minorities and I didn’t know what to say nobody did

the clock ticked and tocked and ticked some more five minutes passed

and one girl said well shit, guys, if we die from nukes

at least Leo DiCaprio won his Oscar finally it was the first time

the only time all day I laughed the whole room laughed

until we cried I don’t mean that metaphorically or

hyperbolically we did laugh and we did cry and continued on

when I left I stood by the bridge overlooking the tunnel

I got high and ate sushi FYI the two are not great combos

it didn’t soothe me at all just made me feel things more deeply

I took the subway (again) something I rarely do I hate

public transport don’t like all the bodies they claustrophobe me

make me anxious not this time I guess the desire to be

in close proximity to others without speaking but feeling

their body heat knowing we were still moving

could still move and continue on it rained that day

as if the sky was crying over us saying why

did you do this and who really is to blame I don’t know

so tired of the infighting and the finger pointing it happened

the impossible did the thing they said would never occur

he’s there and the only thing we can do is protest to make our voices heard

we got angry Allie and Amanda and I and everybody else

15000 people stormed the streets took over 5th ave they chanted

New York Hates You over and over again I wanted to shout stop!

that’s not helpful! and Amanda said No! she said fuck

going higher I’m ready to go lower and my therapist said

we’re in a unique position now to show how capable we are

of love even in the midst of such hatred and I’m not sure who is right

I can’t separate or compartmentalize this feeling when one

person is sad there are people to help you up but we’re all sad

collectively depressed and oscillating between anger and despondency

last night Montana and I were talking she said no one

and nothing feels steady and I said it’s the worst

sort of emotional whiplash I don’t even know

what hurts me most I’m queer am jewish am woman

and for the first time feel Other feel marginalized

by which I mean truly marginalized don’t know how

people of color have dealt with it for so long and I feel worse

wondering if this is even a tenth of their pain and struggle

in class the other night Lea and I yelled at one another for the first time

when I admitted that she scoffed and I didn’t know how to respond

other than I’m sorry and what I’m saying is I feel guilty

she said feeling guilty does nobody any good and she’s right

later Alexandra texted me she was at HarperCollins a safe space right

a literary space but there were two men in the elevator with her

one said I guess we have permission to grab whatever we want

and she texted her partner he said Jesus,

would you just relax and you know I’m tired exhausted of men

telling women to relax or be quiet or calm down or don’t overreact

what else am I/we supposed to do all I want is to cry and then fight

and then cry again it’s been one week since he won

and it’s not going away

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