With grace and style, Jason Sommer considers how to live in the wake of history among those who are indelibly marked by it. On the surface a book of poems composed in the shadow of the Holocaust, The Man Who Sleeps in My Office offers more than a poetic chronicle of suffering and loss. Instead, Sommer--the son of a survivor--has discovered a delicate balance that allows him to be in and of history without succumbing to it. In these works, both the seen and the unseen--the failed or rejected vision--alter the seer, as the limit of one thing becomes the verge of something else. Whether about the Holocaust, the dog he'll never own, or love between a husband and wife or parent and child, these poems savor the mysterious instant when alternatives of vision unfold. While these moments may also conjure loss, the losses are made good, as when, in ''Legion,'' someone forgets why he has walked into a room but salvages from the lapse not the purpose of the errand but a sense of the ultimate worth of a life. These finely crafted narrative poems tell the story of these unanticipated perceptions, when the ordinary opens to the very human story of failed understanding and quiet epiphany.