The Queen of Limerick City

In the photo-booth Eva gets self conscious, blinking when the flash pops. “It’s not me,” she screams out loud as the photo pops out. It isn’t; is a picture of an older woman with dark, not blond hair.

Eva starts to shake, looks for the face of the photo-woman in the crowd. “It’s a trick,” she screams, “someone’s playing a trick on me.” People loo-bound stare or try not to stare as the case may be. She’d dropped her raincoat to be ‘respectable’ for the shoot, now, rooting in the sleeves with the torn lining, she scrambles to get back into it.

A man in uniform is rushing from the train platform. Eva figures she’d better not get into trouble and, still shaking, walks over the black and white tiles as calm as she can. Eyes downward, she heads towards Pery Square.

Tripping down O’Connell Street next, she tries to remember a coffee dock that will serve her. She ducks down a side street when she spots her mother in the distance. “Thanks be to Jesus, she didn’t see me. Thanks be to Jesus, she didn’t see me. Thanks be to Jesus.” She says it over and over. Then “bitch”– she addresses her mother as if she was in front of her. “Bitch. Bitch. Bitch.” She is still saying it when she realises she’s wandered past The Hunt Museum and peeping over Mathew Bridge.

That’s when the strange woman appears, runs her fingers through the threads running from Eva’s winter coat, then touches her shoulder. Eva rabbits her head round into the woman’s eyes: “Bitch! You’re another one of them. Bitch. Bitch. Bitch. You’re like my mother-bitch, well here’s your bitch of a fucking photo and now please hand over mine!” The woman has her hands Sacred Heart-like, open, helpless. The photo has fallen into the water, is being washed to the mouth of the Shannon.

“Give me my photo,” Eva says, “Now. I want it now.”

“Listen dear, I don’t have any photo or anything belonging to you, how could I, I’ve never seen you before.”

The lady calms Eva down with a cup of coffee outside The Locke Bar. Eva smokes a cigarette. A light drizzle falls, but not enough to wet them through the trees. Eva explains that she had had a passport photo taken at the train station and when it popped out it wasn’t herself at all. She goes on to tell the lady she was going to the passport office to get away from Limerick, would go to Shannon and find a cheap flight to anywhere.


Noel King was born and lives in Tralee, Co Kerry. His poetry collections are Prophesying the Past, (Salmon, 2010), The Stern Wave (Salmon, 2013) and Sons (Salmon, 2015) Alternative Beginnings, Early Poems (Kite Modern Poetry Series, 2022) and Suitable Music for a View (SurVision Books). He has edited more than fifty books of work by others (Doghouse Books, 2003-2013) and was poetry editor of Revival Literary Journal (Limerick Writers’ Centre) in 2012/13. A short story collection, The Key Signature & Other Stories was published by Liberties Press  in 2017.