BIRDS SING AND BEES BUZZ in the floral gardens at the Randall Davey Audubon Center & Sanctuary, in Santa Fe. Just off the sunny path near the visitor center of the 135-acre preserve, a flat ceramic piece with dark lettering hangs from a shepherd’s hook.
green, gray, snarl, cluck bird-
calls; morning sizzle, dazzle;
turkeys pop and scuttle
—Darryl Lorenzo Wellington
Just one of 24 poems on the new Haiku Trail, which debuted in mid-May, the scrap of verse sits near a tree where wild turkeys frequently hang out. “Haiku favors the beginner and the master,” says Miriam Sagan, a Santa Fe–based poet and former poetry teacher.
She was inspired to create haiku trails in New Mexico after seeing others in places like New Zealand. In September 2021, Sagan hosted a workshop on the traditional Japanese short-form poetry (which involves more than the simple 5-7-5 syllable pattern most of us learned in grade school) at this site, where painter Randall Davey once lived.
“There are ancient haiku stones in Japan overlooking beautiful spaces,” Sagan says. “I love the idea and actuality of poetry out in a landscape, and I think haiku is a natural fit.”
The Audubon Center’s Stella Reed attended the workshop and collaborated with Sagan to create the trail. Together, they selected poems submitted by workshop participants and sought out contributions from other notable writers, such as Arthur Sze, who lives nearby, and New Mexico’s first poet laureate, Levi Romero. “We set the haikus in the spaces they were written,” Reed says. “It was effortless.”
Etched on ceramics crafted by artist Christy Hengst, the poems hang from tree branches and shepherd’s hooks throughout the verdant property, creating a meandering quarter-mile path through the lower part of the center.
Encountering a poem on a walk through the sanctuary invites you to look more closely at the bits of magic this place holds—apples, hummingbirds, cholla cacti, curious animals.
“It gives you the sensation of being connected to other people across time and space,” says Sagan. “The haiku observes something and freeze-frames a moment.”
I wander among
small continents of pale green
lichen maps on stone
A poet for 25 years, Tina Carlson feels the most creative when she has time to be quiet and open. “I wrote my haiku sitting on the ground, just up the hill from the pollinator garden,” she says. “We were tasked with going out and paying close attention to sensory details. I studied the shapes of lichens on stones.”