Sea Change
by Robin Cantwell

I turn off my phone,
tune out the news,
adjust my eyes
to three dimensions
to memory
to the shapes and sounds of life
a life beyond a touchscreen’s glare
a life that no longer needs data
data that breeds anxiety
anxiety that leads to response
response measured
in artificial urgency
in the mania
of all those feeds
feeds that tell me
get on that plane
refresh that page
toss that straw
into the sea

If I can make my difference
in habit alone
perhaps I can create a state of mind
that lasts a lifetime
a state of mind that takes me
outside the danger zone
the danger zone that whispers
who cares about icebergs
when they’re so far out of sight
so what if you take an uber
when you’re only a bike ride away.

Before I turn my phone back on
before I plug back in
let me take this feeling
unspool it
like an ancient tapestry
and in that tapestry find
a tectonic shift
a new chapter

a sea change.

PHOTO: Arrangement in Blue and Silver: The Great Sea by James McNeill Whistler (1885).

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: I wrote this poem during a power cut. Picking up a pen and writing in a notebook, away from the keyboard and screen, was a moment of revelation. It made me think: if we can remove ourselves, if only momentarily, from the updates and feeds that create such urgency within us, then perhaps our anxiety to consume will gradually go with it.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Robin Cantwell is a London-based graduate of the National Theatre and Theatre503 playwriting programmes. A lover of monologues, his writing for the stage has been showcased at the likes of Southwark Playhouse, Green Curtain Theatre and Anthroplay Theatre. Themes range from James Joyce’s writer’s block to the fear of your friends getting blue ticks on Instagram. His comic poetry has appeared in several UK and US anthologies, while he’s also a regular short fiction contributor to Pure Slush in Australia. He’s currently on the Faber & Faber Writing Academy, where he is writing his first novel.