Gabe Heilig


I heard the perfect song for you

this morning

at the Palace of Cortez,

and it was, as you would have it,

proud, pleased with itself,

glad to be singing its own name.


It was a slow old man this morning,

at the Palace of Cortez,

playing on his violin—

opening his soiled notebook

of handwritten melodies

to Schubert's "Ave Maria"—

playing it once,

playing it again,

then, pleased, slowly stroking

his bow across his resin,

and playing it again.


His music moved between us

like a distant tide,

and took me with it to some quiet spot

where in this world of trouble

we were easy, whole, and strong.

And I wished you could have been there

for your birthday song—


something simple and eternal,

released like birds to streak

across the passage of the sun

above an old man's morning song

at the Palace of Cortez.



                                                            Cuernavaca, 1971

Gabe Heilig has twice been a featured poet on Grace Cavalieri’s "The Poet and The Poem."  He was "script doctor" for "A Step Away From War," narrated by Paul Newman, and has had essays published by St. Martin's Press and Tarcher/Putnam.  He founded the only resume service ever given a lease to do business in the Pentagon and lives in Takoma Park, MD.  He can be reached at



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