Paint it white. Remove the bottom and peer into its whispering guts. Lay out the parts in a row and dare your child to build a robot.
Make it ring.
Hang the dial in a sunny window. Measure spaghetti with the holes. Braid the cord into the unruly mane of a wild pony. Replace the numbers with photographs of monuments and dead jazz singers.
Walk through a train station talking into the receiver. For dinner, serve a bratwurst on the cradle. For dessert, a cannoli.
Put a tiny baby down to sleep. Ring the operator and ask for a line to Newark.
Plant rosemary in it.
Call off the Enola Gay.
Scavenge parts to fix a radio. Smack an intruder in the head. String it across the door to catch your teen trying to sneak out.
Speak into it all the things you wished you’d said.
Hold it to your ear and hear the wheels and waves, Coney Island, Venice Beach.
Carry it into a small closet and put on your tights and cape. Fill it with birdseed and set it out after the first thaw. Open the front and store inside a tiny book filled with photographs of switchboards and phone booths.
Replace the dial with a mirror. A clock. A contour map of Mt. Kilamanjaro.
Stack tinder into its corners to prepare for winter. Stuff the seams with the names of those few still alive who knew you when you were young.
When you have lost your way (or maybe when you’re most sure of it), lift the receiver. Listen for the voice of an absent god.