A celebration of Persian voices and talent

I Am Not Your Moon by Mahdis Marzooghian


I Am Not Your Moon

by Mahdis Marzooghian
“My name means “like the moon,” but I am not as forgiving. I refuse to return to anyone who doesn’t put in the effort to know me, full name and all.”

I Am Not Your Moon
by Mahdis Marzooghian

When asked the meaning of my name, I say, “Mesle mah, Farsi for ‘like the moon.’
In response, I am often told, “Your name is too much effort, I’ll call you by a nickname instead.”

Mah—the first half of my name—is moon in Farsi, difficult to pronounce for those unfamiliar with Farsi’s throaty enunciations. The ‘h’ expects to be sounded out deep in the back of the throat like a sharp whisper, a shivering secret.

-dis—the second half—meaning “like,” is easier to pronounce and completes my name. The ‘i’ expects to be held longer—dees—against the roof of the mouth before rolling off the tongue like an Altoids mint: a tiny moon melting against a ridged pink sky.

In grade school, I made it easier for everyone. “My name is Ma-dis,” I’d say, cutting out the ‘h’ and forsaking it in my throat, keeping the secret to myself—or I’d claim the ‘h’ was silent when the spelling of my name confused others.

I don’t know what that butchered version of my name meant—with the ‘h’ carved out like a heart, or condemned to silence—but I’ve now stitched my ‘h’ back into my name, given it space to heal, and insisted on correct pronunciation and no diminution.

What does it mean to be mesle mah?

Am I as isolated as the moon hanging outside my bedroom window? Am I as tolerant?

Despite witnessing all of humanity’s wrongdoings, she still comes back each night.

My name means “like the moon,” but I am not as forgiving. I refuse to return to anyone who doesn’t put in the effort to know me, full name and all.

Put in the time to wholly learn me and sound me out tenderly, and I will reveal all my nuanced ways. The fact that the ‘h’ is vital and cannot be left out. That Mah needs its ‘h’ to be Farsi’s moon and I need to be called by my real name—no missing letters, no nicknames—because I am a full moon, not a crescent.

And when I am called, Mahdis, the tongue washes over and caresses every vowel and syllable as if it’s high tide, and I’ll come back each night, offering all of my light.


Mahdis is cofounder and editor-in-chief of Five on the Fifth. She has a master’s degree in professional writing from Towson University, and is a writer and editor based in Baltimore, Maryland. Currently, Mahdis works as Assistant Managing Editor at Weiss Ratings. Her fiction and nonfiction have appeared in the Miso for Life anthology, Heartwood Literary Magazine, Welter Literary Journal, Mud Season Review, Adirondack Review, BULL Men’s Fiction, Lunch Ticket, and most recently in Arkana Literary Journal, where her piece won the Editor’s Choice Award. Mahdis’ debut novel, “Death Has None,” is forthcoming from Austin Macauley Publishers. The first chapter of her novel was longlisted in The Voyage Journal’s Spring 2021 First Chapters Contest. Mahdis is founding member of the PRWR Towson University Alumni Alliance Writers Retreat program at Still Point, WV. Learn more at fiveonthefifth.com. Follow her on Twitter @fiveonthefifth and on Instagram @fiveonthefifth_litmag.

FEATURED IMAGE by Sanni Sahil via Unsplash.

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