Laetitia Djaja 

I shut the door behind me with excuse to change

the night is too hot to be in a birthday dress

dinner was filling, Italian like every other year

the one occasion Dad sacrifices his Asian palate.

Marty the zebra taught me to celebrate

that hitting a decade is the big deal

more than just another year

it’s getting the two digits: one oh.

Thirteen opened a can of worms

bop-cut without blow-drying skills

braces and crushes without breasts (yet)

boys that only want one thing: cleats.

Fifteen taught me of double-edged swords,

journals are your only listener

and your worst traitor,

maturing is hard for all and impossible for some,

and birthdays aren’t just for blowing candles.

It’s a goodbye to seasons

that end alongside last year’s number

immortalised in CD-ROMs under titles like IMG_2093

Or worse, on the family collage wall.

realising Hannah Montana will be less relatable

answered dreams are no longer perfect dates

sent to bed with emojis and gif hearts

but of straight HDs and signed contracts

And soy cappuccinos before brunch.

And it’s in your double-digit years

where you find that with each larger number

comes a smaller group of people

to blow your candles

to hide anger journals

to laugh at rejection texts

to question why the world revolves only one way

yet left alone to answer which way yours would go.


Laetitia Djaja enjoys scribbling lines on train rides and coffee dazes. Sometimes she turns them into poetry. Laetitia currently resides in Melbourne, Australia while undergoing her postgraduate study.