From the opening poem, titled “Will you die with me?” Lewington makes no effort at disguising what the reader should expect. Following the opening heartbreaker, the poems slide and coalesce into a convalescent home for words, where everything can’t help but show the pain it feels. “The canal is temptation / Everything is still the same / Sitting under a tree / Watching the ripples on the water.” The poems show their scars without shame but with an appropriate disposition.
Always simple, straightforwardly put, it is a credit to Lewington that she approaches her ever-human topics with honesty and transparency, without becoming overwrought in the bluntness of just telling us what we could have discovered. The poems retain that element of discovery that transparency often dilutes. We discover a poet’s heart, yearning, exploring what it means to be trampled on and in potentially purposeless pain.
Looking for a heart
Though the book sometimes feels unrefined and in need of polishing, it remains worth exploring. There’s enough of interest to keep the missteps from overtaking the value: “It is when I am sitting in the bus shelter / I am thinking of this / Our first night together / Our ferocious intent to bond with each other.”
Just a Sign of the Times bends and becomes a voice that could have echoed from the head of anyone who reads it. It is a lost heart, looking for a heart. With this, Lewington makes a solid step into poetry.