We Know

by Mark Chmiel

In that spring semester course
There were 40 students
The official limit was 35
But I let more in

Before starting The Book of Mev
I asked
“How many of you
Have known someone—

A family member
A friend, a neighbor
A teammate, a teacher
Who experienced any kind of cancer?”

I asked because I was curious
I knew what we all went through
And wrote a book about it
(Part two, anyway)

I reckoned there were students
Who had their own intense experiences
Before their 18th birthdays
Because of what their dear ones underwent

It was a full class that day
40 out of 41 of us raised a hand
We were all citizens and kindred spirits
In the United States of Cancer