Spilling Convention

Spilling Convention


In an age when man has forgotten his origins and is blind even to his most essential needs for survival, water along with other resources has become the victim of his indifference.

Rachel Carson (writer, scientist and ecologist)


Water to audience


I am Water.


crop-giving –

provoking life in places you’ve never seen.


I am Water.

Dynamic as I am deep.


I am Water.

There’s oceans of me

shored up and ready.


I am Water.

Sixty percent of you is me.


Human enters, immediately there is a stark contrast in the demeanour of Water.  She recoils and retreats as if the life has been sucked out of her


Water to herself


I stayed in the scrawl of his hand for too long, watching him manoeuvre and handle me as he saw fit. His thoughts were of progress and opportunity – he didn’t care what that cost. But now he will. I will blare misuse. I will not stay tamed.   The very rivulets on my neck rouse at the sound of his name.


Human overhearing partially, then addressing audience


There we are again!  I don’t hear it now. The same old stuff about how she has it hard, as if I don’t feel it too.  The chores mount, the bills need paying, the kids don’t stop screaming and I’m turning up late again.  I’m struggling, really struggling to keep up; being pulled apart by dates, deadlines, duties. Ha – she thinks I can indulge each whim and meet every minor need!


Water muttering to herself – agitated, disturbed

repeat phrases, including others in any order – could continue in background, show restlessness


every minor need?

What about me?

indulging every whim!?

dates, deadlines, duties!?


Human ignoring water


I’d love to have time to think about the future, but I’m stuck in a loop:

The faces-washed-watered-breakfast-spilt-retrieve-ice cream routine.

I can’t take a measured approach. I need her on tap…


The cat’s been sick – I need her.

There’s crayon on the wall – I need her.

A grazed knee to clean – I need her.

The three-year-old’s weed on the sofa and it’s soaking into the cushion again – I…need…her!


Water to human


You took each home,

exposed every vault,

rummaged my still dank dens,

plucked each hope.

You stole my homes.


And the vaults chafe,

the dens speak out –

speaking to a surge

within myself.

You snatched each home.


You sapped me dry,

earmarked each path,

assigned every fen

a larder source.

You sapped me dry.


And the paths gape wide,

the fens remember well –

remember their sea shroud

and my threaded silty veil.

You sapped me dry.


 Human defensive, still ignoring water


Do you have anything else to add, anything more to throw my way?  You’re out of your mind, an emotional black hole and the melodrama won’t work with me.  Not here, not this time…


Water almost uncontrollable, speaking at around the second Human stops


High tide

you bide

your time

not mine.

I’ll rise


and pall

your plans,

your schemes,


You sucked soul,

spilt streams,

spilt me



And surge,



will get the better of me…


…I’ll take you with me


Human the extent to which Water is agitated suddenly jerks him into snapping back at her


Let me get this right.  You own most of the earth, but say I’ve taken your homes.  You pour down in torrents, but say I’ve sapped you dry.  I’ve had to graft, and slog all along, giving every last grain of who I am to survive.




To binge, to gorge or to survive?


Were you ever bartered for privilege? Your weaving ways trained to uniformity? Things you love marketed at the trading floor, where something is never enough and enough looks for more?


runs straight into following section


You dredged my depths,

sifted each gift,

trawled up mementos,

made me, marred me

gully sick.

You dredged my depths.


And my past swills oil,

my silent silvers – stained,

when you ruined me

from the ruined ships

to the drifts that heave

and rush the quay.

You dredged my depths


Human realises this isn’t so easily justified his tone shifts, still defensive, but show that a bit of understanding of Water’s situation is developing


I dredged your depths for places to plant and for fish to feed the family.  I’m told to, ‘eat two portions of fish for omega 3,’ by health professionals who exist to guilt-trip me. And the oil and stuff that makes you sick – yeah, I’m sorry, we all make mistakes. Can’t you see – I end up scouring you to play this all-consuming game.


Water butting in hurriedly and agitatedly


Scouring in a way you can’t sustain!

‘Sticky plaster’ educators,

homes built on my flood plains.

And the fumes beg me rise,







So it’s not

watered down,

under the bridge.

My currents







Your mouth-

watering aims,

hankering needs

forget my

Dead Man’s Bootlaces

and Creeping Chains.


Do you want hell or high water?… (pauses) You’ll know it high as I take and swamp what’s mine!


Human as he speaks he gets audibly and visually more irate, by the time he speaks of the numbers dead at the Yangtze River he is out of control.


I’ve known it high,

I’ve known it wide –



Great Flood to

Yellow River,


in Mumbai.

A hundred thousand

dead at

Yangtze River,

twenty thousand plus

in Venezuelan



I’ve known it high.


And that time I swam in you, I was only nine and your wave battered and twisted me until I couldn’t breathe. YOU COULD HAVE KILLED ME!


In his anger Human lunges at Water, scrambling and grabbing her violently


Water pleadingly, in pain


You’ve got to see – that’s nothing compared to what I could do.  And all those catastrophes, do you really think they were my choice, that they had nothing to do with you?


Water’s words and his actions, trigger something, he suddenly drops Water and recoils, full of regret


Human visibly shaken


I’m so so sorry… I don’t know what I was doing… I’ve never done that before


human paces round agitated, remorseful, speech fractured, ends up in a position of submission towards Water, she takes his head in her lap as she tries to calm and soothe him while he talks


I’m so so sorry… All this time, you’ve been trying to tell me what I’ve done to you – the effect I’ve had, how I’ve been taking you for granted… All I did was ignore.  I was trying to make sure I was ok, that I had what I needed… I should have done things differently.  I’ve taken things that are your’s…  I’ve used your youth – your life-force, without even asking, all for my own good.  I didn’t even ask you what you wanted!


 Water murmured whilst still stroking Humans head


Youth – used,

wilds – tame,

cheap thrill,

quick tricks,










You used my youth.


following section – Human and Water interspersed, echoing and overlapping each other


Human  I cut you off.

Water  You hemmed me in.

Human  I forced you back,

Water  You penned me behind.

Human  stuffed you full of sewerage and plastic and traded mire.


Water  You hemmed me in.


Human  I bricked you in.

Water  You damned me up.

Human  I purchased your plains,

Water  You brushed me aside.

Human  positioned all my little postage-stamp properties where they can’t beat off your tides.


Water  You damned me up.




And I’ve never even asked you what you want?


Water with relief and longing


I want to race fells,

torrent flats,






I wanna

break wild,

pour ease,

pelt sward and

rock with the feel of me.

Let me haunt holms and swallow creeks,

each runlet – rise to welcome me.

I’m gunna rescue fen,

reclaim green,

peel off shame, hurt, usury and start again.


You know my straits, every cache, every cut,

you see me gasp,

you see me covet,

you see you stole,

you know you betrayed   .

You wanna gauge

the cost of comfort?

It seems

you start

to know







Human pleadingly, tenderly reaching out to her


Is there? Can we learn another way?




Did you hear that: ‘Glory is like a circle in the water’?

Coming to nothing when the ripples die

We can look to each other and not self-promotion,

carve out a preference for you and I

am waiting to bond our futures,

anchor to you in the rough.                                                              clasping palms

Be wise – our palms will power generations,                         palms against each other’s

Applaud each other…




…stir up love.

You can race your fells and

torrent pasture,

toil with me with a common aim.

I’ll seek your good and strive for your contentment.

Together we’ll find another,




more watery way.


Both to each other


I am waiting to bond our futures,

anchor to you in the rough.

Be wise – our palms will power generations,

Applaud each other,

stir up love.

You can race your fells and

torrent pasture,

toil with me with a common aim.

I’ll seek your good and strive for your contentment.

Together we’ll find another,




more watery way.