I'm going to reply to myself here as I may have completely misinterpreted this poem, Brandon! Being from the cold wet climes of Northern Ireland, we don't have outdoor pools, so when I read this I imagined a garden pool in Florida where it is so hot that even the machine that cleans the pool can just about crawl along! I associated 'dog days' with lethargy and lack of energy due to extreme heat. In fact, the opening scenes of the Ben Kingsley / Ray Winston film 'Sexy Beast' came to mind as soon as I read this.
Brandon, I really enjoy this – especially since we in the southern hemisphere are moving into spring and summer and I can look forward to warm days and swimming pools!
The mention of the "pool vacuum" is particularly vivid for me, since my own family never had a pool, and it was only when we came to the city every summer and stayed with my aunt and uncle and cousins, we enjoyed the use of their pool. I was always positively captivated by the trilobite-like vacuum cleaner that slowly chugged continually across the pool floor.
"dog days" isn't a common term used in Australia, though I am familiar with the expression. Apparently it relates to the ancient Roman belief that the hot weather in late summer is associated with the brightest star in the summer sky – Sirius – the "dog star".
But there is another connotation of "dog" that is used in Australia and which still fits perfectly with this poem: "dog paddle" – a basic swimming technique which many children appear to naturally discover when they are first starting to swim. It balances therefore the first line: 'the crawl" which invokes for me another swimming stroke – the "Australian crawl" now known as "freestyle".
So for me, the poem is all about summer at the poolside, remembering summers past, while watching the children play.