the drowse of the sunlight

Conrad Aiken

IN the mazes of loitering people, the watchful and furtive,
The shadows of tree-trunks and shadows of leaves,
In the drowse of the sunlight, among the low voices,
I suddenly face you,

Your dark eyes return for a space from her who is with you,
They shine into mine with a sunlit desire,
They say an ‘I love you, what star do you live on?’
They smile and then darken,

And silent, I answer ‘You too–I have known you,–I love you!–‘
And the shadows of tree-trunks and shadows of leaves
Interlace with low voices and footsteps and sunlight
To divide us forever.

I remember being obsessed with this poem in college. I wrote it on the back of a postcard and hung it on my wall. All the postcards on my wall had poetry on the back side, the usual suspects–Cummings, Plath, Rumi–but this one was always my favorite. Painfully romantic, I liked to close my eyes and imagine myself in the scene. I hadn’t lived enough life to know love like this. The kind that sneaks up on you. The impossible kind. Though really, it is all the impossible kind.

and sometimes you don’t

Love lights up the caudate nucleus because it is home to a dense spread of receptors for a neurotransmitter called dopamine, which Fisher came to think of as part of our own endogenous love potion. In the right proportions, dopamine creates intense energy, exhilaration, focused attention, and motivation to win rewards. It is why, when you are newly in love, you can stay up all night, watch the sun rise, run a race, ski fast down a slope ordinarily too steep for your skill. Love makes you bold, makes you bright, makes you run real risks, which you sometimes survive, and sometimes you don’t.”