“I really don’t like that dress at the store:
This old one I wear suits me fine.”
But why is that longing look in her eyes?
And why do her eyes seem to shine?

She says to herself, “I’ll buy some new shoes:
That boy of ours needs a pair.”
Something that should have been long thrown away,
His mama continues to wear.

She scrimps then and saves a few dollars more,
A month has now passed, more or less.
She sits down and counts, and finds that she has
Enough money saved for her dress.

So on shopping day she goes to the store
And tries on the one that looks nice.
Something inside her that poets call love,
Then made her look twice at the price.

“School will be coming in just a few days,
And both of the girls need new clothes.
Something about this new dress I don’t like,
It’s priced high enough, heaven knows.

I think, that instead, I’ll buy some new jeans.
The girls will both need a new pair.”
She takes one last look, and hangs up the dress;
Convinced in her heart that it’s fair.

So throughout the years, she gave and she gave,
And took for herself less and less.
But today all of the kids have gathered around,
And helped pick out mama’s new dress.

Ah, don’t she look nice, so peaceful and still,
As each of her children caress,
The one who gave to them all that she could…
Ah, don’t she look nice in her dress?

William Raymond Waterman, Sr.

To appreciate the poem “Mama’s New Dress” one must first understand the era, which is the setting for the poem. These were the late 1930’s and 1940’s. Our family lived only six miles from the nearest town and yet there was no electricity, gas nor running water. A bad land farm with clay soil that could only produce a garden and perhaps a little stunted corn. My father farmed with mules and horses using the horse drawn implements that were available at the time. Those were the days of kerosene lamps and butter churns and washboards and clothes pressed using flat irons heated on a wood stove. If you were extremely lucky a battery operated radio was shared by the family. Television had not been invented yet and children made up their own games to play. A new dress for mother was practically unheard of and yet always desired and planned for. These plans would most likely be set aside when the children’s needs became evident. In spite of the daily hardships and trials, my mother was a master at “Making do”. And she did this with an ever-present smile on her face and always with a song in her heart. It was in thinking of this woman I loved who was continually making sacrifices, that I penned “Mama’s New Dress”