Punch and Judy

My father used to try to catch me out

for platitudes—for saying what I thought

I ought to feel, instead of what he thought 

I felt. Admit it, he’d say, as I worried

the social implications of some minuscule 

success. You’re pleased as Punch. Punch

as in the puppet show, not the fruit drink

or time clock or even the knockout blow,

which is how I took it. If not accusation, 

maybe he merely meant to warn: 

If he could see through my mask

so would others, not so kind. But emotion 

turns all ways—some solace will come 

disguised as grief. Admit it. Who can’t laugh 

must cry, and who can’t cry cries anyway, later.

Hannah Silverstein

Hannah Silverstein is a graduate of the MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College. A 2021 Best of the Net finalist, her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Passengers Journal, Passages North, Barnstorm Journal, Dialogist, Orange Blossom Review, West Trestle Review, Cider Press Review, LEON Literary Review, Whale Road Review, and others. She lives in Vermont.