At 100 Court Street in Plattsburgh, New York the telephone had its own room between the dining room and the hall closet under the stairs, where we told ghost stories.
There was no door for this room, annoying my sisters, who had to almost whisper to their boyfriends and the curly cord was short.
Telephones were always black, even those that hung on the wall you had to stand up to speak into, until blue and pink Princess phones.
We never had one. In the movies California princesses talked on them, lying on their stomachs on beautiful beds, knees bent, ankles crossed up in the air.
Before cell phones, see-through telephone booths sat on every corner and on every hall in college dorms. You needed correct change. Sharon Olds wrote a poem about learning her boyfriend was dead on a pay phone at school.
My new husband and I, just returned from our honeymoon, have no telephone in our apartment when the State Troopers knock on the door at midnight telling me to call home.
I close the door of the phone booth on Shepherd Street, cast adrift in a pool of light, call home collect. My mother answers, voice clear and crisp as the night air. My father is dead at 57.
One year later a phone rings at dawn in our new apartment. My brother’s voice travels across the continent. Mother has died. She too is 57.