“Renew Color” © Dr. Regina Valluzzi

white dwarf


nana says that long before brown skin degraded us to dirt
on the soles of white men’s shoes,
all souls were entwined, hearts in line
pulsing to the beat of the same cosmic drum


tears of frothy nebula, breaths of spangled night
we shined for decades upon centuries upon millennia.
and when hooded, star-soaked lids cracked
open to reveal a honey-eyed wonder, we embraced it. we
rubbed sleep-induced moon dust from our eyes, shouted
from our thatched rooftops, begged for sunlit skies to kiss
our skin. back then, human hearts were just that —
not brown hearts or black hearts or white hearts —
because we knew the colors of stars were irrelevant by the time they
reached earth – lost in translation between
waves of chasmic galaxies


nana says in those days, the surplus of melanin in our skin
was considered a necessary
adaptation to mother nature’s whims. nana
says she would like to scream in the face of
the white man’s burden,
for forcing us to release all of our pigment in a
drawn-out cataclysm of ego.
now, we rot in the aftermath of a supernova,
a collapsed star cluster of a people:
a white dwarf.

Nikita Bhardwaj is a high school student in Princeton, New Jersey. Her work has been recognized by the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards and has been published in TeenInk magazine. When she’s not editing or telling herself to write, you can find her sleeping, studying for a chem test, or watching the Great British Baking Show.

Art can illuminate even the most elusive and difficult to comprehend ideas. Visual rules and tightly codified visual metaphors help scientists communicate complex ideas mostly amongst themselves, but they can also become barriers to new ideas and insights. Dr. Regina Valluzzi’s images are abstracted and diverged from the typical rules and symbols of scientific illustration and visualization; they provide an accessible window into the world of science for both scientists and non-scientists.