My parents always used to poach an egg using a metal contraption that sat on top of a boiling pot of water. You’d break an egg in shallow metal bowls that sat in the contraption and you’d steam the egg. After I started to take an interest in cooking I was surprised to learn that that wasn’t really a poached egg. A poached egg is cooked in boiling water: just dump the raw egg into a pot and let it cook; however, it’s an art. If you nonchalantly dump the egg in it’ll spread around making a mess. The trick is keeping the albumin (the white part) and yolk from separating, so it looks like an egg instead of just an egg dumped in a pot of boiling water.
I read once that you have to stir the water before you put the egg in, creating a vortex that helps keep the egg together; that doesn’t work well in my experience. The World’s Healthiest Foods website has an In-Home Cooking Demo section that illustrates how to do common cooking tasks, including poaching an egg. It works, too. The secret: add vinegar to the water.