Going To St. Ives – Monologue (Cora)

A monologue from the play by Lee Blessing 

CORA (forties – fifties) 

Cora is a British doctor, here talking to the mother of a nefarious African dictator who has come to her for treatment of her failing eyesight. 

The woman has asked Cora to tell her why she became a doctor.

I loved life. . . . No. I loved life. That which animates. That first wriggle, that shiver. The instant something turns into a living being. Indefinable. 

I get the sheerest pleasure simply from its presence. . . . There’s nothing without life. They sent a mission to Mars —

utterly extraordinary, a different world—yet only one question interested us: Is there life? As though it couldn’t be a world otherwise.

That fantastically pitiful picture of a tiny shovel sifting through a bit of sterile dirt. Please, we thought, let there be mold, virus, something . . .

that on some level goes through what we do —lives, experiences, dies. I don’t know what we were going to do: put a leash ’round its neck, give it a name? 

Still, it meant everything. When we found nothing, centuries of fascination with the “Red Planet” simply vanished. Who cares? No life. 

But then the meteorites in the polar ice cap were found, and instantly the passion resumed —ancient life, microscopic, eons ago. 

And we’re spending trillions, just to know that once there had been an organism there —the tiniest packet of matter —that was alive. I for one understand that. 

That’s how it is with me: personal, visceral, irrational. I love life, I love to discover life, to save it. I love to see it stay.

Read the play here

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