Nahuales are mythological beings, witches/shamans that use ancient Aztec abilities of therianthropy to convert to animals. They exist and live alongside me and my family's cosmology. They've settled and share the same plane of existence of living in a small migrant community that's adjacent to the Rio Grande River and to the Camino Real Landfill. Nahuales too share my awe for the desert but have also inhaled the lethal landfill fumes that caused the premature death of my sister inside my mother’s womb.
What if the insidious fumes of landfill waste were to distort the genetic composition of Nahuales? Their shapeshifting from human to animal becomes arrested, leaving them at a liminal in-between space of human and animal. Because of this aberration, a new transfiguration occurs, born of abject queer fecundity. One in which internal organs become visible and curdled, giving these monsters a hypersensitivity to better feel their environment. Horns become claws, or antennae, or split tongues to pick up subtle movements in the air. Eventually, a new type of alchemy is made, evolved and better equipped to deal with hazardous environments.
This curse also causes the Nahuales magical energy to gnarl in on itself, constricting its own body to the point of implosion. What saves and diverts its pressurized abilities is the convergence of reanimated desert refuse; like sunwashed circuit boards that gravitate and latch on to this mutation, a new fantastic becoming stabilized in its own body. Nahuales in turn are a premonition of what a divergent body will look like as our world becomes more and more toxic, a rasquache mythological construction grounded in its new identification and of this time.
They become beings of a future that is already here, but also creatures of a time when desert used to be ocean and our hands were not hands but a thick foot of a muscle leaving behind slime over an already ancient rock.
These creatures then become Chupacabras, monsters born from the collective fears of Latinx communities. A mythological genesis from toxicity, but also a result of assimilation and neo-liberal agendas that led to NAFTA; forced migration, land exploitation, poverty, and gendered violence. The Chupacabras wanders the cities along the border by following old turquoise trading routes replaced by the commerce of NAFTA. Living in the hills next to the house of my uncle Arturo by the outskirts of Juarez, Mexico. A creature with bad posture, dry skin, skinny legs, and gray teeth from drinking man-made lagoon water mixed with laundry detergent is welcomed here, because of its acquired taste for ICE agents.
These Nahualitic creatures appeared on the night my dad crossed the Mexico/U.S. border with my cousin (the one I don't even like) by using a borrowed passport. Standing by, waiting for our turn to talk to the immigration agent’s interrogation, I thought of what it would've been like to cross the border, not on land or water: but on my grandmother's broom, under a battalion of stars and the sweet smell of sacred datura. No documents or fear, just the breeze below our feet. Instead that night, crossing the bridge, we became Coyotes; of both myth and reality.
Ruben Ulises Rodriguez Montoya was born in Parral, Chihuahua. He emigrated with his family to an immigrant community in the U.S.-Mexico border of El Paso, Juarez and New Mexico. Currently he is a nomad by default because of Corona. He received his MFA in Sculpture + Extended Media from Virginia Commonwealth University.