If this was a toast, I wouldn't shame you by raising my glass. If this was a toast I wouldn't drink any perfumed sparkling cider, non-alcoholic, fair-trade, kosher under all laws of Man and God alike---yes, cider, unsympathetic and I wouldn't drink a drop to you or your family or mine. Because every wet mouthful reminds me of other mouths untailored to the sport of dissolving sugar in water---calling it ambrosia---and making small idols, little golden calves if you will, out of bridesmaids and birthday girls and The Happy Couple and each success, each little wonder that makes everything shiny again and gold-tinged in the fizz of virgin champagne, was somewhere I couldn't be.
I have missed you growing up. I have missed most of the moments that you stood and raised your glass for, you spoke for yourself at a banquet---something we gasped at, and then applauded---and you thanked the hostess, you drank something that was sweeter and rarer than your own blood, you even acknowledged the band; but you didn't finish quietly or apologize or take your seat graciously, thank you thank you, with that look on your face that says "I am behaving myself". You had the grace of a Bible and the charm of a beggar, you broke rules and hearts and peace treaties from distance nations where they didn't want to fight wars or cry tears, but they loved you---they couldn't help it, you were so primitive and good to look at---oh, they loved you and All's Fair in Love and War, and if it's love, it's usually war as well.
There isn't room for you to make speeches in ballrooms or auditoriums, there isn't glassware for you to drink from with your lethal lips, parched as you are, dying of thirst, begging for water to save your life but me?---cruel bartender and girl-next-door---I refuse you and all your fine gifts, your dangerous hips, I beg you not to toast to my blue eyes or my hangnails or the mean streak you've noticed that I have because I'm jealous. No, there isn't time for you to come to me bearing goblets upon goblets of water and wine, goblets stacked up to the very sun; you can't raise them all to me now and say "To you. And always, to you". Murders in ballrooms must not be committed. Girls with long hair and bad dreams must not be broken-hearted.
I am very young, and afraid.