Radha Paula Neilson ≈ Prose & Verse




Too Many Pockets


In response to a friend’s inquiry about my well being, I try to explain how overwhelmed I feel. I find myself saying “my life has too many compartments.” It is like a coat with too many pockets. There are those pockets which are stuffed and overflowing, constantly requiring attention and those completely neglected; ones you feel guilty about for not having reviewed their contents, and ones you long to dive into and hide. There are quite a few you didn’t know were part of the coat at the outset. Who could have known; a simple twist and you have another pocket to attend to. I think ” if only I could be more organized” but wouldn’t that just be more pockets within pockets all lined up in pretty rows? What of those deep and cozy pockets you can thrust your hands into as you inhale slowly the natural world and exhale into true bliss ? There are never enough of those, amongst the torn and frayed-edged pockets and ones not yet completely sewn on. Always there is at least one hidden pocket, deep and dark, where you never venture; pockets you pretend are not part of the coat.
My spinning head attaches to a new idea, a revelation; maybe
, just maybe, this coat needs some alterations, some attention from a tailor with a needle and thread and even (a radical thought ) a pair of scissors



Another Death


Another death on the hospital ward.

Death is part of life. It’s part of the job.

No attachment. Professional detachment.


But how do you detach a heart ?


This one died quietly and alone.

The curtains are pulled.

Loved ones have been called.

I ask to know when they arrive, so they don’t go in alone.


But work carries on just down the hall. The clock ticks on.


What I don’t understand is how the world keeps going

The world should stop – at least for a moment

We need time – time for respect

A being has died, departed, gone … from this world.

No moment of silence or celebration of life

at least not now.


The clock ticks on. Work carries on.


No prayers, No remembrance, No last respects

Just a body to move.

An empty bed on my team is what it will mean.

A new client there by the end of my shift.

No sign to say … Somebody died here today

I feel his presence remaining in the room

I talk to his lifeless body

I talk to Him

of his courage in these last days, of his character, of the rest he has earned..

We move him gently zipped in a bag marked with his name.



A cider a day can’t hurt, I reason,

but it might be a 2 cider night tonight, after THAT day.

She was only my age and the look of pain in her partners eyes, I’ll never forget

his incomprehension of what to do next


A crack in my heart to join other cracks.

What of MY heart? How much more can I take?


Even so, I am there to help the next family through.

They stand stiff and awkward in the room.

Their mother lies dying , beyond them now.

A raspy breath No voice

Eyes closed, focused far off.

Put down the side rail I say, sit close, hold her hand.

Say what you need to. Hearing is last to go.


But I need to leave them.


The clock ticks on. Work carries on.



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