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You guys were at the pier that afternoon checking out the seagulls, and I guess maybe at a certain point you felt my look on you because you turned away from the seagulls to look at me. We were standing only a few feet away from each other. I was inside one of those concrete enclosures they stagger along the pier to give people some privacy who want to take in an undisturbed view of the bay. You could only see my head, maybe my shoulders, because from your perspective, standing on the pier, the rest of me would have been shielded behind the enclosure.
You nodded hello. I nodded hello back. From beside your knee your young son’s look said to you, “Would it be OK, Dad, if I also say hello to this man whose lower body is shielded from our eyes by the concrete enclosure, this man whose body is, oddly, facing away from the bay?”
An additional moment passed between us. It was during this additional moment that I think you maybe came to intuit there was an additional person seated on the bench below me within the concrete enclosure, and that the goings-on down there between the additional person and the lower part of my body were shielded from you and your son and the other piergoers for a reason.
A pair of seagulls glided by overhead. Your son’s eyes followed mine. I shielded the sun with one hand, pointed up with the other.
“Look!” I said. “Seagulls!”
Something you couldn’t have known, but the detail that remains most vivid for me whenever I pore over my memory of that afternoon, as I often do, is that when I looked back down from the seagulls to regard the three pairs of eyes peering back into mine, I noted that each pair—in addition, I could feel, to my own pair—had begun watering.
That’s what the title of this thing is talking about. Those are the reasons our eyes were watery alongside a parenthetical indicating which pair of eyes belongs to that reason.
Evan Lavender-Smith is the author of From Old Notebooks and Avatar as well as the founding editor of Noemi Press. His writing has appeared in many journals and magazines, including BOMB, The White Review, Colorado Review and Denver Quarterly. Read more of his writing at www.el-s.net.