A Champs-Élysées Stroll, 1980
by Jeanie Greenfelder
On a torrid day, traffic and tourists sweat
and we trudge toward Café Ladurée.
I’m determined to taste the famed macarons
my friend raved about.
My husband sights a nearby brasserie
and wants to skip the Café Ladureé,
souring my Paris magic.
I hurl vintage hurts at him:
You don’t love me. You never loved me.
His eyes flare and his lips quiver.
Then his body snakes across ten lanes of cars,
leaving me gilded in guilt, scared and stranded,
staring at the Arch of Triumph.
He had stopped smoking,
and returns, puffing a cigarette,
punishing me, hurting himself.
Two tired tourists call a truce.
We march in league down the Champs
toting a memory, a slice of time
toasted with heat, hot words, and smoke.
This poem appears in the author’s collection Biting the Apple (Penciled In, 2012).
NOTE: Avenue des Champs-Élysées is a street in Paris that runs for 1.2 miles between the Place de la Concorde and the Place Charles de Gaulle, where the Arc de Triomphe is located. The street is known for its theaters, cafés, and luxury shops, as well as the annual Bastille Day military parade and as the finish of the Tour de France cycling race. The name is French for the Elysian Fields, the place for dead heroes in Greek mythology.
PHOTO: Avenue des Champs-Élysées, Paris, France. Photo by Josh Hallett, used by permission.
NOTE: Ladurée is a French luxury bakery established by Louis-Ernest Ladurée in 1862. Known for its premium macarons, with locations around the world, the shop referenced in the poem is located at 75 Avenue des Champs-Elysées, Paris.
PHOTO: Ladurée, 75 Avenue des Champs-Elysées, Paris. Find out more at laduree.fr.
PHOTO: The Ladurée macaron originated in the middle of the 19th century with Pierre Desfontaines, who first thought of taking two macaron shells and joining them with a ganache filling. The recipe remains the same. Available flavors currently include Rose Petal, Orange Blossom, Salted Caramel, Framboise, Pistachio, Strawberry Candy Marshmallow, Coffee, Vanilla, Black Currant Violet, Lemon, Marie Antoinette, and Chocolate.
PHOTO: Gift box of macarons from Ladurée.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jeanie Greenfelder’s poems have been published at American Life in Poetry and Writers’ Almanac; in anthologies: Paris, Etc., Pushing the Envelope: Epistolary Poems; and in journals: Miramar, Thema, Askew, Persimmon Tree, and others. The San Luis Obispo County poet laureate, 2017,2018, Jeanie’s books are: Biting the Apple, Marriage and Other Leaps of Faith, and I Got What I Came For. To read more of her poems, visit jeaniegreensfelder.com