At the start, it was
Like the sound of a chilled cucumber
Snapped in half briskly on a hot summer day
In the novelty of all things
A foreign state with foreign friends
A foreign box to call a home.
With time, it was replaced with
Of persistent formaldehyde
Clinging to every pore
And every item owned
(despite relentless efforts to sterilize and compartmentalize)
Its phantom stench in almost every aroma perceived
(whether imagined or real)
The way medical school had become a way of life
Just one of the things we do.
And as the formaldehyde settled in
Noses learned to readjust to its background presence
Minds became accustomed to chronic weariness
And dopamine pathways permanently hooked onto the pleasures of tea addictions.
(or simply caffeine, caffeine, caffeine — to each his own)
The appreciation of the small reliefs in life became essential
(treasure, oh, treasure the small things in life)
Like the comforting aroma of milk and Earl Grey
Or the dusty familiarity of Things From Home
Or even that aseptic cleanse of the winter snow.
But mostly, it is that fuzzy
Perfectly humidified air
Mixed in with the embers of last night’s drying tea leaves
Where the most comfort is found as
The rest of the senses succumb in a cradle of
(smooth, rhythmically rocking)
beta and theta waves.